Build an Ocean Ethic
The National Park Service works with scientists and scholars in its parks to understand how the ocean and its connected environments function. These studies in parks reveal how to better conserve water-based ecosystems and how local communities can make a difference in ocean health. This knowledge can help us restore damaged ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes parks, protect these parks from current and future threats, and connect them with people, who can then do their part to protect and conserve these resources. The oceans may seem like a vast place, but even one person can make a difference through simple actions.
“The oceans deserve our respect and care, but you have to know something before you can care about it.” – Sylvia Earle, Ocean Explorer and Hero of the Planet
Beyond its responsibility to manage the recreational resources and facilities of national parks, the National Park Service is charged with stewardship of the nation’s heritage in a collection of special places saved by the American public so that all may know and enjoy our shared heritage. Stewardship of the National Park System cannot be done by the National Park Service alone, especially for ocean parks. Partnerships with citizens, other agencies, and other national governments are required to assure that migratory species return and are left free to leave as healthy as when they arrived, that water quality is at least as good leaving parks as arriving, and that respect for cultural attachments to diverse ocean heritages is shared broadly.
National parks sustain the biological diversity (biodiversity) of ocean resources, they commemorate significant events in our maritime history, and they provide opportunities for all to experience authentic America. Of the 400+ National Park Service-managed units in the National Park System, 85 directly protect and conserve parts of the nation’s ocean and Great Lake heritage. All of the system’s units indirectly influence these coastal units through the watersheds, lakes, streams and rivers they protect. Water connects us all, and the ocean and Great Lakes are the mothers of all water.