Akwi Anyangwe, Development and Program Intern
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Blue waves of t-shirts, hats, and signs flooded the National Mall on Saturday, June 9th. The first ever March for the Ocean (M4O) was held in Washington, DC on a hot, humid day. People came from all over the world to advocate for the preservation of one of our greatest necessities, the ocean. Making up 71% of the earth's surface, the ocean plays a crucial role in the wellbeing of the world and ecosystem cycle. It unites people, animals, and cultures. However, as demonstrated by increasing coastal pollution, overfishing, global warming, and habitat destruction, the ocean’s importance is undervalued.

The March for the Ocean was organized by Blue Frontier to raise awareness for ocean conservation issues to appeal to political leaders to advocate for environmental conservation policy. Blue Frontier was joined by WWF, The Ocean Foundation, The Sierra Club, NRDC, Oceana, and Ocean Conservancy to name a few. In addition to the top environmental organizations, The Ocean Project, Big Blue & You, The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, and several other youth organizations were also in attendance. Everyone banded together to advocate for the wellness of our ocean.

 

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Several members of The Ocean Foundation’s staff exhibited their passion for preserving the ocean by participating in the march and highlighting The Ocean Foundation’s conservation initiatives to the public at our booth. Below are their reflections on the day:

 

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Jarrod Curry, Senior Marketing Manager
“I was surprised at what a great turnout there was for the march, considering the forecast for the day. We had a blast meeting and chatting with so many ocean advocates from all around the country - especially the ones with creative signs. The life-size, inflatable blue whale from the Great Whale Conservancy is always a sight to behold.”

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Alyssa Hildt, Program Associate
“This was my first march, and it brought me so much hope seeing people of all ages so passionate about the ocean. I represented The Ocean Foundation at our booth and was enlivened by the kinds of questions we received and the interest in what we do as an organization to support ocean conservation. I hope to see an even larger group at the next march as awareness of ocean issues spreads and more people advocate for our blue planet.”

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Alexandra Puritz, Program Associate
“The most intriguing part of M4O were the youth leaders advocating for a healthier ocean from Sea Youth Rise Up and Heirs to Our Oceans. They gave me a sense of hope and inspiration. Their call to action should be amplified throughout the marine conservation community.”

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Ben May, Coordinator of Sea Youth Ocean Rise Up
“The sweltering heat normally wouldn’t permit us ocean lovers to participate in such an exciting event, but that did not stop us! Thousands of ocean lovers came out and displayed their passion during the march! The rally afterwards was extremely revolutionary as delegates introduced themselves on stage and stated their call to action. Although a thunderstorm caused the rally to end early, it was great to gain insight from other youth and adult leaders”

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Alexis Valauri-Orton, Program Manager
“The most inspiring aspect of the March was the people’s willingness to travel from far to be a voice for sea animals. We had people from all over the world sign our email list to receive updates on initiatives to saving our oceans! It showed their passion for the sea and exhibited the necessary steps one should take to make long-lasting change!”

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Eleni Refu, Development and Monitoring & Evaluations Associate
“I thought it was uplifting to meet so many people, of all kinds of backgrounds, who seemed incredibly zealous about protecting our world ocean. I hope that we get an even bigger turnout for the next march because it was so nice to see people come together in support of a cause that is often overlooked.”

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Julianna Dietz, Marketing Associate
“My favorite part about the march was talking to new people and telling them about The Ocean Foundation. The fact that I could engage them and excite them about the work we’re doing was really motivating. I spoke with local DMV residents, people from all over the U.S., and even a few people who lived internationally! Everyone was excited to hear about our work and everyone was unified in their passion for the ocean. For the next march, I hope to see more participants come out – both organizations and supporters.”

 

As for me, Akwi Anyangwe, this was my first march and it was revolutionary. At The Ocean Foundation’s booth, I was surprised at the amount of young people who were eager to volunteer. I was able to witness first-hand that the youth are the center for change. I remember taking a step back to admire their passion, will, and drive and think to myself, “Wow, we millennials can really change the world. What are you WAITING for Akwi? Now’s the time to save our oceans!” It was truly an amazing experience. Next year I will be back in action at the March and ready to save our ocean!

 

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