Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water, whether it's the ocean, a river, a lake, or a pond. All of these bodies of water form an interconnected aquatic ecosystem. What happens upriver affects the water and habitats downstream and onward to the ocean.
Oceans provide homes to an incredible amount of biodiversity, have the means to supply sustainable fisheries if managed correctly, and offer a plethora of human resources. Did you know that phytoplankton produce more of the world’s oxygen than all of the trees on the globe? Environmental stressors, such as climate change, pollution, habitat damage, and overfishing are causing significant losses in ocean habitats and species.
AZA and AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums play a vital role in advancing ocean conservation, science, and education. Together, the AZA community provides conservation and education programs, supports and engages in research and conservation projects, advocates on the local, national and international levels, and maintains partnerships with like-minded government and non-government agencies in order to raise awareness of ocean issues and conserve ocean resources for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.
AZA, its Aquarium Affairs Committee, and related Animal Programs, including those related to freshwater and marine fishes, coral, marine invertebrates, marine mammals, and sea turtles, cooperatively serve to recommend species for cooperative management, develop superior animal care and management strategies, establish research and conservation priorities, and develop resources to help AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums develop successful, sustainable, and strategic conservation and education programs.
AZA-accredited aquariums contribute to ocean conservation in a variety of ways including but not limited to marine animal rescue and rehabilitation, coral reef rebuilding, wetland restoration, sustainable seafood programs, beach clean-up events, and sea turtle monitoring. Every time you visit your local aquarium a portion of your entry fees are used to support ocean conservation projects.
AZA, working cooperatively with The Ocean Project, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, initiated a research survey in 2008 to quantify public awareness, attitudes, and actions concerning the ocean, environment, and climate disruption. This qualitative and quantitative scope of work, thought to be the single most comprehensive public opinion survey ever undertaken on behalf of any environmental concern, enabled the means to identify and track changes in public actions and attitudes relating to the ocean over time. Read more about Visitor and Public Research.
AZA SAFE takes a collaborative approach to recognize, promote and bolster conservation efforts for vulnerable species. SAFE program teams are working to save marine animals from mammals to invertebrates. Species such as the vaquita porpoise, Atlantic Acropora coral, sea turtles, and sharks and rays, are a few examples. Learn more here.
Seafood Watch is a program of the AZA-accredited Monterey Bay Aquarium that helps individuals and business make informed decisions on the types of seafood they consume. Species are rated on a scale – the “Best Choices” are those which come from well-managed and sustainable sources with minimal impact to the ocean. Read more about Seafood Watch. Numerous AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have become Seafood Watch Conservation Partners and work hard to build awareness about ocean-friendly seafood choices.