Why Does the Ocean Matter to You?

Photo Contest contestants put into words what they love about the ocean

It’s somewhat indescribable—our love of the ocean. Since time immemorial, humans have been enamored by our ocean in one way or another. And it can be hard, if not impossible, to put into meaningful words the feeling of strolling the shore, digging your toes in the sand, breathing in that salty air and just … listening to the waves crash.

This is why one of my absolute favorite parts of managing Ocean Conservancy’s Annual Photo Contest is not just seeing the incredible images that are submitted but watching which photos end up capturing the most votes. Seeing what resonates with you—our ocean-loving voters—connects us in ways that words simply cannot.

And yet, we try. This year, we asked our Photo Contest contestants to do the impossible—put into words why the ocean matters to them. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“The ocean provides life for this whole planet. From the interesting and beautiful creatures to the oxygen it provides. Without the ocean, we would not be here and we should protect it as best as we can.” – Claudia

“I live by the tides, about 50 yards from the ocean. I am blessed to live in one of the prime areas for sea turtle nesting in the United States. From the tracks of a mother coming ashore to lay eggs, to seeing the hatchlings race to the water, I truly appreciate the fragility of our ocean environment. Only one in a thousand hatchlings survives to sexual maturity. Walking 5-8 miles a day on the beach allows me to remove plastic and other hazards. It is important to do anything—no matter how small—to preserve the safety of our sea life.”


“The ocean is so calming during the most stressful of times.” – Cathy

“In my Indigenous Pacific Islander culture, the ocean is considered our mother and the source of all life. We believe the ocean should be respected, revered and cared for sustainably.”


“There’s just something about it. I didn’t grow up near the shore, but when I am standing on the shore, I feel like I’m home. The ocean is a source of our food, our clean air and for some folks, a way of life; all of this needs to be protected.” – Heather

“I was born on a tropical island where the ocean is an integral part of my spirit. It cleanses my spirit; it soothes my soul. When snorkeling or diving, I get goosebumps at the underwater spectacles that only those that venture out to those magical worlds see. I admire the friendliness, kindness, nonchalance, and beauty of most of the species I have encountered. I am in awe of the ocean’s overwhelming beauty yet prudent as to cautiously respect its mighty wrath. I have embarked on a mission to eliminate sewage discharges throughout the coastal shores of Puerto Rico, one pipe at a time.”


“I live in an archipelagic state of 700 islands and thousands of cays. The ocean is our life. Ocean conservation and preservation of the marine environment are the most important sustainable development goals. Getting “up close and personal” with the ocean on daily walks and swims helps me to focus on these goals.” – Jerusa

“The ocean is the largest physical object on Earth, so having a passion for it is practically unparalleled. The beautiful, vibrant marine life that live below the surface offer up a colorfully captivating universe. It inspired me to pursue a career in marine biology & coral restoration, so it will forever hold a place in my heart.”


“A clean, healthy environment is the key to the health and well-being of people and animals. We are an integral part of this planet, its biosphere. Therefore, it is our duty to take care of the cleanliness, health and harmonious coexistence of all the inhabitants of the Earth.” – Dmitry

“I understand, even though I live in the middle of the USA, I still have an impact on Our Oceans. Every chance I get to scuba dive in our lakes, rivers, and oceans I see our impact, directly and indirectly. I might not know everything, but what I do know is that I can decrease my impact on the ocean, and waterways to the ocean, and raise awareness for others in my landlocked state. That way myself, and those after me, can still be awed by the marvels of the Ocean.”


“As an underwater photographer who loves macro images, it’s fun to show people the tiny critters that make their homes in our seafloor and in sea plants and algae. Many are so small they are not able to be seen with the naked eye.” – Stacy

Join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to tell us why the ocean matters to you. And stay tuned—Photo Contest winners will be announced next week!

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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