With the ocean covering over 70% of planet earth, it’s fair to say there is a lot to explore! The growing importance of sustainability and conservation efforts for travellers has also never been more relevant so why not dive head first into an exciting mix of activities and destinations that can be undertaken right now? From whale watching in New South Wales and dolphin spotting in Florida, to walking through Europe’s longest underwater tunnel or adopting a piece of coral off the coast of Tahiti, experience the beauty of the world’s oceans whilst also helping to conserve its natural ecosystems and habitats.
Help to Conserve Marine Life – Florida’s Paradise Coast, Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades
With much of Florida’s Paradise Coast being surrounded by water and marine wildlife, environmental conservation is an important aspect of life in the area. Visitors can check out the wide variety of guided eco tours to explore the area and learn how they can best protect the natural environment. Those looking for an in-depth educational experience can check out the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve which conducts guided kayak trips through backwater bays and mangrove forests. Visitors should also stop by the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center which houses a 2,300-gallon aquarium display of the area’s natural attractions. For a more interactive experience, check out the Dolphin Explorer where guests get to assist naturalists by spotting dolphins, collecting data and logging photos as part of the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project. Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Winter Whale Watching – New South Wales, Australia
From May to November each year, over 40,000 whales make their way along the 2000 km stretch of dramatic New South Wales coastline. Pick a spot along the coast for a chance to spot humpback and southern right whales as they elegantly make their way down the ‘Humpback Highway’ from Antarctica to their warm northern breeding grounds. Spot whales from Australia’s most easterly point, the Cape Byron Lighthouse or join a Byron Bay kayaking tour for the chance to get up close and personal with the gentle giants. Visit Meroo Head Lookout in Jervis Bay for panoramic sea views and the chance to watch the whales breach and play with their newborns as they rest halfway along their migration journey. During the winter season, whale watching tours depart daily from Sydney’s circular quay, Darling Harbour and Manly. www.sydney.com
Adopt a Coral – The Islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia
With a territory as wide as Western Europe and made up of 99% turquoise waters, it is no surprise that Tahitian’s lives are intertwined with the ocean. Whether atop a sailing boat or accompanied by scuba-gear, visitors can explore the 118 islands either above or below the calm surface of the sea. Education is key when it comes to conservation, and what better way to learn about the marine biodiversity of The Islands of Tahiti than getting up close and personal. Coral reefs are the oceans lungs, but the majority of coral worldwide remains threatened by pollution and climate change. Adopting a coral is a tangible way to make a difference as coral reefs regulate global climate, protect coasts against storms and provide the habitat for around 25% of marine life. Help Coral Gardeners educate the public on the importance of reefs and restore the heavily impacted ecosystems off the island of Moorea. Once the coral has been named by its owner, they will receive an adoption certificate with a picture and the GPS coordinates of where the coral was planted. tahititourisme.uk
Learn about marine life at Valencia’s Oceanogràfic – Valencia, Spain
Why not spend World Ocean Day educating yourself about the incredible ocean and the creatures which inhabit it at Europe’s largest aquarium in Valencia, the Oceanogràfic. There is certainly no shortage of marine life to see with the capacity to house 45,000 living creatures from 500 different species. The aquarium has the perfect balance of excitement and education as it houses examples of the most important ecosystems from each of the planet’s seas and oceans including Wetlands, the Arctic, the Mediterranean and much more. Feel the thrill of crossing the underwater tunnel, the longest of its kind in Europe, surrounded by sharks or head to the dolphinarium for daily educational shows to learn more about the biology and behaviour of dolphins. Fuel yourself up at the underwater restaurant and enjoy its unique design which was created by Félix Candela. visitvalencia.com
Watch Giant Blue and Grey Whales – Newport Beach, California
Head out on any of the boating and yacht charters to spot one of the many whales which swim in the waters of Southern California. Giant blue whales can be sighted during the summer and autumn while grey whales are more frequently seen in the winter and spring. Over 2400 whales were seen in 2017 so visitors needn’t worry about being let down! Join a daily guided tour with either Newport Landing or Davey’s Locker who have experienced professionals for these whale watching tours all year-round. When not spotting whales enjoy the beautiful scenery of Newport Beach or get a better view of the birds which inhabit the coast. Be sure to bring your binoculars and cameras to not miss a thing! www.visitcalifornia.com
Contribute to Protecting the Whales – Seattle, Washington
Seattle’s Puget Sound is home to numerous whale species and there’s many initiatives to protect them in Seattle’s surrounding waters. With the Orca Network, travellers are encouraged to connect with the whales of the Pacific Northwest. Join the Whale Sighting and Education Project where observation and awareness is encouraged through reporting the sightings of the species to help protect and restore their natural habitats. Travellers can also donate to preserve the safety of whales and their habitats. Visitseattle.org