Celebrate Life Below Water this World Wildlife Day

The United Nations World Wildlife Day is on 3 March and they’re asking you to spare a thought for marine life.

What is World Wildlife Day?

Each year the UN makes a point to celebrate how varied animal life is on our planet. By doing this, the organisation hopes to raise awareness on how important these creatures are to our planet and how we need to do more to reduce the threats against them.

This year’s World Wildlife Day theme is “Life below water: for people and the planet”. Without our oceans we’d be at a complete loss. According to the UN, over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. While the oceans have helped to sustain us with everything from food to construction materials, it has also enriched our lives culturally, spiritually and recreationally.

However, it has been overexploited as a resource with 40% of the ocean under threat from pollution, loss of coastal habitat and climate change. This will not only have an impact on marine life, but on the coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on the oceans.

How do I get involved?

The UN have suggested getting involved in local projects, hosting your own celebrations and sharing the day on your social media page with the following hashtags #WorldWildlifeDay, #LifeBelowWater, #PeopleAndPlanet, #WWD2018, #DoOneThingToday and #MarineSpecies.

We have some great organisations in South Africa who are working very hard to protect our coastal habitats. Take a look at the Ezemvelo Turtle Monitoring Programme and how they are helping to protect the turtles on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. We also suggest you consider these eight things before climbing a dune and maybe the next time you’re on the beach, take ten pieces of rubbish home with you.

If you’re not looking to get out and about this World Wildlife Day, then here are some great documentaries that are ready o be streamed on Netflix.

1. Blue Planet

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll find the first season of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet on the streaming service. Even though it was filmed in 2001 (read: before the age of HD cameras), it still has all the makings of a great BBC and Attenborough production with stunning shots, great storytelling and informative narration. Unfortunately, the second season Blue Planet II is not available on the streaming service in South Africa yet. Watch a clip from the first season below and if that entices you, watch the whole season on Netflix.

2. Shark

Cue the Jaws soundtrack. Shark is another great BBC production that takes you across the world to meet this sinister predator. Visit everywhere from the tropics to the Arctic and see another side of this animal. Thankfully this documentary was originally released in 2015, so it’s got all the super sharp visuals for your viewing pleasure. Watch a clip from one of the episodes below and catch the rest of it on Netflix.

3. A Plastic Ocean

The amount of plastic in our oceans has garnered much attention in the last while and has resulted in massive retailers like Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths making their own promises to reduce their reliance on plastic. A Plastic Ocean sees filmmaker Craig Leeson uncover just how much of an impact this material is having on our planet.

4. Mission Blue

This Emmy award-winning documentary follows the life and work of oceanographer, marine biologist, and environmentalist Dr Sylvia Earle who is on a mission to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries.

5. Chasing Coral

Chasing Coral follows a team of scientists around the world as they document the disappearance of coral reefs and how they are dying at a rapid rate.

Photography The United Nations World Wildlife Day

Leigh Hermon

A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.

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