world oceans day

Make/Play/Watch/Read: World Oceans Day (June 8)

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Most of our planet is covered by the ocean. We’re talking more than 70%. That’s a lot of water. And a lot of marine life. We are still discovering new life in some of the most amazing underwater sites. However, for those of us still on land, the oceans produce at least 50% of our oxygen and a whole bunch of food to over a billion people around the world (so, some of the marine life is yummy and high in protein). All of this goodness and we still need an official World Oceans Day to stir up some action. 

World Oceans Day is celebrated every year on June 8. This year, the theme is Life and Livelihoods, understanding the need to support the natural wonder of the oceans and to balance this as a life source for communities around the world. The majority of communities (not corporations) who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods do so with a healthy respect for the oceans. One of my favorite examples is the Italian festival, Sagra del Pesce.

In northern Italy, there is a small town called Camogli. Every year, they celebrate the Sagra del Pesce—the Festival of the Fish. On the second Sunday of May, the town does a massive fry-up of sardines. The frypan is insane—at least twice the height of the average human! Everyone in town is invited to join in, with free offerings of sardines to the public. This is a small fishing village that lives predominantly off the ocean as its livelihood. 

  • sagra del pesce camogli 2008
  • sagra del pesce camogli 2008
  • sagra del pesce camogli 2008

However, the true festivities start the night before. The streets are filled with lights, open to market stalls and party games. People are laughing and sharing stories with families and friends. Then, as the night slips in from the sea, candles and effigies are carried through the street. A reverent yet joyous procession makes its way from the church to the frypan, giving thanks to the ocean. This is the balance of life and livelihood. Those who fish the oceans know the balance between feeding their people and feeding the ocean. The people of Camogli have been known for their sustainability and environmental activities to care for the ocean. 

An effigy used in the celebrations on the eve of Sagra del Pesce, to give thanks to the ocean. Photo by EG Dad

World Oceans Day has embraced the balance of caring for our oceans while providing support for livelihoods. Let’s use this day as a starting point and build on our own relationships with the oceans. 

Make: A Monster From the Ocean You Do NOT Want to Live With

There are lots of creative ideas to make for World Oceans Day, but they all seemed a little cutesy for my liking. The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is Life and Livelihoods. To celebrate this, we need something that really feels alive. Something only a real marine lover would want in their home. Fellow GeekMom Lisa has captured this perfectly with her Easy Pool Noodle Monster Portal Craft.

Image by Lisa Tate

Isn’t it gorgeous? Lisa says she was inspired by her love for Halloween, but personally, I think she has captured the unrelenting life of the ocean in the most amazing way. Or maybe I overdid it on the snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef, followed by haunting ghost wreck stories on the beach at night? 

GeekMom Lisa has detailed and easy-to-follow instructions in her article. If you love creative ingenuity, prepare yourself for the return of Lisa’s annual “Be the Artist” summer Series. 

Play: Flip & Fish (Signature Board Games)

Flip & Fish was created by two guys who love to fish. When I first met Michael and Dragos at PAX Australia 2019, the guys were excited to show how they had turned the most boring hobby in the world into a fun and active tabletop game. Okay, so the “boring hobby” part is absolutely my bias, but I am totally correct on the fun and active tabletop game. 

Flip & Fish is a dice-and-card game designed for 2 to 4 people. While it says it is aimed for ages 10-and-up, the only difficulty for younger kids may be in their dexterity to roll the dice onto a set target. However, considering the difficulty experienced by a 40+ mom, I don’t think we can lay the blame solely on the kiddies. Each game takes about 30 minutes to play and will need a moderate amount of space to set up. 

The game includes a D12 die, 4x player aid cards (“Jetty”), 90x Fishing deck cards (including trophy fish, regular fish, and five [5] boots), and 20x Shopping deck cards. The goal is to “catch” at least two [2] trophy fish to win the game. To start, there are five [5] cards placed face-down in the middle of the gaming area. Each player takes it in turns to either Fish, Shop, or Gear Up

To “Fish,” the player rolls the die over the face-down cards “in the water.” If you land within “fishing distance,” the card is turned face-up. If you rolled a number higher than the number indicated on the card, you win the fish. As the game continues, you can buy items in the Shop to help you catch bigger fish or use the smaller fish you catch as bait to catch the trophy fish.

Image by EG Mum (PAX Aust 2019)

One of the sweet details I love about this game is the list of fish included on the cards. All of the fish are real, genuine, in-the-ocean fish. Michael and Dragos really did turn their love for fishing into a tabletop game. They also incorporated a lovely touch to prevent over-fishing, something every fishing community understands very well. It’s a core element of protecting the life of the ocean and the livelihoods of the community. 

Flip & Fish is available on the VR Distribution website for AUD$39.95, or ask your local game store to order it for you.

Watch: My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)

The award-winning Netflix Original documentary, My Octopus Teacher, deserves every award heading its way. It is a stunning display of a respectful relationship between a man and an octopus. Directed and written by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, the documentary follows Craig Foster as he documents his experience with a curious young octopus. 

I was recommended to watch this documentary due to our eldest kid’s fascination with marine biology. Honestly, I was hesitant to do so—we have watched other “great” documentaries only to be shocked when the star of the show dies in some horrible way. And yes, we are fully aware this is life, but you need to choose your docos wisely. When My Octopus Teacher was released in September 2020… well, we all know 2020 wasn’t the greatest of years, so I was a little hesitant to watch it!

And I was wrong. This is a beautiful documentary, with all of the focus being on marine life. Foster is an incredible filmmaker in his own right. His desire to free-dive in a cold underwater kelp forest near Cape Town (South Africa) is both admirable and a little scary. It was an adventure that paid off: he met a curious young octopus and the two developed a bond that explored life underwater, for both octopus and man. 

Image from My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)

For the purpose of full disclosure, {SPOILER ALERT} the octopus dies at the end but it is in the most beautiful and natural way—not shocking or upsetting. In fact, the whole point of the documentary is to share how the octopus mentors Foster with a new look at life. It is fragile and beautiful and vibrant and voracious. The ocean is both fundamentally strong to nurture us yet so vulnerable, it needs our help to survive. If you are still having any doubts, we have a whole bunch of Australian marine biologists who love this doco as much as the rest of us.

Read: Blueback by Tim Winton

When I asked my 14-year-old son for book recommendations for World Oceans Day, he shoved this book in my hand and said, “This. There may be others but this should be top of the list.” After re-reading it, I completely agree. I mean… I really should trust the budding marine biologist on all things ocean. He knows a lot more than me.

Blueback is the story of a boy’s relationship with the ocean, from 10 years old to adulthood. Wait, it’s more than that. It is the story of his mother’s relationship with the sea and how the two come together. Abel (the boy and main protagonist) has grown up on the coast of southwestern Australia all of his life. His family were small-time abalone fishers—the best in the area. While free-diving with his mother, Abel meets a huge Blue Groper and names it Blueback. It is Abel’s relationship with Blueback and the ocean which guides his life and everything from there.  

I know why my son loves this book, but I will be honest: I love it for Abel’s mother, Dora. She is the true balance of community and environmental warrior. She knows her son is a scientist and needs to learn about the ocean his own way. For some of us, the only help we can give the ocean is through our learning and sharing the knowledge with others. One day, I will send off our budding marine biologist to become a “real qualified” marine biologist. I think he will go on to even greater things. We will continue to do our bit at home—be responsible for our actions, raise awareness in the community, participate in environmental clean-ups, protest against those who pollute our waters. It’s a bit like World Ocean’s Day; we can all do our part, even if it is a little role. We need more of us to do more, but we can still do our part. 

All the variant covers of Blueback by Tim Winton

Blueback is one of those stories that tell you about the ocean through the experience of a human. It’s a short novella, often assigned to year 5 and 6 students in Australian primary schools. However, the writing style is relaxing and uninterrupted, a characteristic of Tim Winton who is known for his strong characters and emotive landscape scenes. 

World Oceans Day is growing in both popularity and necessity each year. There are many ways to celebrate the day and there are ways to keep the momentum going for weeks beyond. It’s okay to start small: read a book, watch a documentary. The next step is to share it with one more person. Then see where that action takes you. There is a lot of life to learn about in our oceans. For some, learning can be a livelihood as well. 

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