What is Ocean Health

Woman picking up trash at Everglades National Park

What is ocean health? How can it be sustained or improved? What roles do national parks play in improving ocean health? The foundation of a healthy ocean is understanding how it works and how human actions may threaten it—to better protect ocean resources, we need to know more.

Ocean and coastal national parks are special places held in trust for future generations. Part of this mission is keeping them healthy. Healthy parks are ecologically intact: they have all of their parts—they’re not missing any species; they do not have any extra parts—invasive species or toxic materials created by human intervention. In other words, healthy parks have integrity.

Healthy parks also respond to stresses with resiliency. They are resistant to invasions and diseases from outside plants and animals. They have an inherent capacity to repair damage and to replace elements removed by human activities. Healthy parks are also environmental benchmarks that enhance understanding of how nature works, and that provide sources of replenishment for depleted resources elsewhere. And healthy parks allow visitors to connect with the generations who experienced these places in the past.

Maintaining ocean health is not just important for nature; it is critical for human well-being. People are connected to the ocean. Our lives depend on the ocean for oxygen, food, and protection from wild swings in weather and climate. As ocean health declines, human society is threatened. The good news is that although the ocean is vast, people working together can improve both ocean health and human well-being.

Learn how you can help.

Last updated: April 19, 2016


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