Background Info

With every breath we take, every drop we drink, we're connected to the ocean. Our planet depends on the vitality of the ocean to support and sustain it. But our ocean faces major threats: global climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, invasive species, and a dramatic decrease in ocean fish stocks. These threats to the ocean are so extensive that more than 40 percent of the ocean has been severely affected and no area has been left untouched. Consequently, humanity is losing the food, jobs, and critical environmental services that a healthy ocean generates. National Geographic Society's Ocean Initiative aims to restore health and productivity to the ocean by inspiring people to care and act, reducing the impact of fishing, and promoting the creation of marine protected areas.


Watch this video during formal or informal instruction to explain to students why a healthier ocean means a healthier planet. Covering 72 percent of the Earth and supplying half its oxygen, the ocean is our planet's life support system. This video dives into why the ocean is important and some of the biggest threats it faces.

For Further Exploration


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

Encyclopedic Entry: climate



management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

Encyclopedic Entry: conservation

coral reef


rocky ocean features made up of millions of coral skeletons.

dead zone


area of low oxygen in a body of water.

Encyclopedic Entry: dead zone



pre-eminent explorers and scientists collaborating with the National Geographic Society to make groundbreaking discoveries that generate critical scientific information, conservation-related initiatives and compelling stories.



meaning or effect.

marine protected area (MPA)


area of the ocean where a government has placed limits on human activity.

national park


geographic area protected by the national government of a country.



environment or ecosystem, usually without human development.



large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

Encyclopedic Entry: ocean



chemical element with the symbol O, whose gas form is 21% of the Earth's atmosphere.



capable of being hurt.


Media Credits

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Jessica Shea
Mary Ford, National Geographic Society

Page Producer

Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society

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