5 Life Lessons From Marine Wildlife

Look no further than our ocean for a dose of inspiration

We all could use a little inspiration sometimes, especially amidst a modern world with so much uncertainty. While it’s wonderful to turn to literature, films or videos for motivation to help us remember what’s important, there’s one unmatched source that I love to turn to when I need a boost to my mood or a gentle reminder of life’s greatest gifts. The source? Our ocean, of course!

If you’re wondering how exactly the seas of our blue planet can serve such a purpose, don’t worry, friend. Dive on in and find out exactly why our ocean has an unbelievable capacity to stir a new sense of hope, joy and determination into us all.

Nothing stops a mama’s love.


Robison et al, MBARI:PLOS ONE
If you’re looking for examples of some of the most dedicated mothers in the world, look no further than our ocean. Mother walruses are known to carry their cubs on their backs as they swim, ensuring their babies are safe and secure. They’re not the only creatures who exhibit these types of behaviors, either. Right whale moms demonstrate incredibly strong maternal attachment with their calves and sea otters are known to cuddle their pups on top of themselves as they sleep on their backs, ensuring their little ones never drift away.

And octopus moms? No one messes with an octopus mom.

These marine mothers relentlessly watch over thousands of eggs during their incubation period, even passing up their meals to ensure their babies are protected. It’s clear that the love of a mother could be considered one of the most relentless and powerful forces of love in this world —both on land and beneath the waves.

You can do anything you put your mind to.

Source: GIPHY

There’s one sea creature I think is one of the most iconic when it comes to demonstrating the power of will and belief in oneself: baby sea turtles. As a sea turtle hatchling breaks out of its shell for the very first time, it’s immediately faced with one of the greatest and most difficult challenges it will ever experience: braving the ruggedly unforgiving shoreline to reach the sea. What may be just a handful of yards can feel like miles to these tiny reptiles as they bravely push past obstacle after obstacle and dodge predator after predator to finally meet their forever home.

In an incredible brushstroke of nature’s ability to paint unending wonder into our blue planet, baby sea turtles are born with what seems to be an innate and unabating sense that if they don’t give up, if they keep pushing just a little longer, if they fight for the treasure they know is waiting for them at the finish line, any difficulty or hurdle they encounter on their way to it is worth it. The simplest lesson we can learn from these hatchlings? Never, ever give up and don’t forget that the greatest thing standing between you and your loftiest goals isn’t anything you encounter on your journey … it’s your mind.

True love really DOES exist.

Source: GIPHY

While it may be easy to view true love as a fantasy, many marine wildlife species are evidence that genuine romance really does exist in our world today. For example, while seahorses aren’t exactly “lifelong” partners, these horses of the sea are serious serial monogamists, meaning that they stay committed to a single partner for long periods, ensuring they can consistently and successfully bring along the next generation of seahorse babies.

The romance part comes in with what some might call their “dating” process. Every morning, a seahorse lady and gentleman will faithfully engage in a dance with one another, reinforcing their bond. While most of us probably don’t dance with our partners every time the sun rises (especially before some of us have had our coffee), what we can take away from these loyal little fish is that always making time for each other and routinely expressing love for our partners is, undoubtedly, just one key ingredient to a lasting romantic relationship.

You can be small AND mighty.

If you think that a sea creature has to be the size of a great white shark or humpback whale to be powerful, think again! For example, while copepods aren’t necessarily the cutest or most charismatic critters in our ocean, these tiny creatures are essential in ecosystems like those of the Arctic. No matter where they roam, they are known to thrive in virtually any waters they wish to call home.

Kat M. Research, Creative Commons

Here’s why they’re so mighty: These itsy-bitsy insects of the sea are at the very bottom of the food chain and ensure that all life at higher trophic levels is sustained. Without copepods, other iconic creatures that we think of when the Arctic comes to mind likely wouldn’t exist in the first place. The lesson here: don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are too small to make a difference. As the Dalai Lama said: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”

No matter what, “just keep swimming!”

Source: GIPHY

While the ocean animal that may come to mind is the beautiful blue tang, Dory, in the film Finding Nemo, this short line is a life lesson we can learn from nearly all of the creatures that call our ocean home. Sea turtles don’t give up when they face obstacles on their way to their ocean home. Octopus moms don’t give up protecting their babies when a predator lurks nearby. Seahorses don’t completely give up on love if one of their mates didn’t show up for their morning dance on time. Copepods don’t stop unapologetically being copepods just because they’re one of the tiniest residents in their blue home.

Our ocean, as a whole, never gives up and keeps its currents moving even amidst threats that grow stronger each day. If our ocean and its magnificent creatures of all shapes, sizes and species can remember to just keep swimming, trust our ocean: you can too.

Want to send our ocean a wave of thanks for its incomparable and unfailing ability to inspire us each day? Donate today, and your gift will help us work each day to preserve and protect the gift that our ocean truly is for us all.

Our work is focused on solving some of the greatest threats facing our ocean today. We bring people, science and policy together to champion innovative solutions and fight for a sustainable ocean.
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