Seaweek takes place from February 29 to March 8 in New Zealand. Seaweek is all about celebrating the sea in a country surrounded by water, and learning how our waters affect our lives.

This week, we’re celebrating 5 reasons that we should appreciate the ocean, both during Seaweek and every day:

1. The sea is home to rare and fascinating animals

Did you know that there are plenty of marine animals that are only found in New Zealand’s oceans? Only on this country’s coast can you see New Zealand fur seals, Hooker’s sea lions, Hector’s dolphins, Māui dolphins, and yellow-eyed penguins.

And there’s no better time to see these marine animals than right now.

Photo by Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith

In New Zealand, yellow-eyed penguins are nationally endangered, and little blue penguins are classified as at risk by the Department of Conservation. If you’re going to a beach with little blues, always keep your dog on a leash. Hooker’s sea lions are one of the rarest and most endangered sea lion species worldwide. Sadly, Hector’s and Māui dolphins are also on the brink of extinction, largely because of human activity along the coast.

2. The sea drives the water cycle

During the water cycle, water continuously circulates around the planet. Rain falls from clouds down to the land, then runs into the sea, and is then evaporated back up into clouds to continue the cycle. The ocean holds about 96.5% of our planet’s water in total, and about 90% of the water that is evaporated during the water cycle comes from the sea.

This cycle is a necessary part of life on earth, for plants, for animals, and for us.

Photo by Alan Grinberg

Currently, climate change is impacting the water cycle. Extreme weather like droughts and heavy rainfall are increasing, disrupting the natural cycle. Since spring-like conditions are coming earlier, there is also less freshwater available during summer and fall in the Northern Hemisphere (seasons that usually have high water demands).

3. The sea feeds us

If you enjoy dining on fish or other seafood, you definitely owe the ocean a big, heartfelt ‘thank you!’ Seafood is New Zealand’s fourth highest money maker, and over 10,000 people in New Zealand make a living fishing. Fishing is also a favourite recreational activity for both locals and vacationers.

Photo by Robert Thomson

Aside from its economic and recreational value, fishing is an essential part of Māori culture and history. It is (and has historically been) both a food source and a way of showing hospitality to guests. A number of Māori fishing practices are actually still used in the fishing industry today.

4. The sea absorbs carbon

Keeping carbon out of our atmosphere is one of the best ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, and the ocean helps out with the carbon cycle immensely. New Zealand’s marine vegetation removes tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

New Zealand’s waters keep carbon from heating our planet further.

Photo by Todd Johnson

Seagrass meadows, mangrove trees, and other wetland vegetation found in New Zealand are excellent at absorbing and storing carbon. New Zealand’s extensive coastline spans about 15,000 kilometers (9,300 miles). It’s one of the longest coastlines in the world, making it a key spot for carbon storage.

5. The sea is full of adventure

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the ocean this week is by actually visiting it. New Zealand is embraced by water from all directions. With access to both the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, there are plentiful opportunities to get in the water.

Whether you feel like swimming in a sheltered lagoon or surfing some swells, New Zealand’s coast is the place to go. Join the 3.5 million beach goers who enjoy New Zealand’s shores every year, and see why so many flock to its sandy beaches, stunning coastline, and sparkling waters.

Photo by Pablo Garbarino

This Seaweek, reconnect with the sea by going to one of New Zealand’s top 10 beaches of 2019. You can also learn more about why the health of our oceans are vital to the health of our planet, and discover how each of the ocean’s inhabitants plays an important role.

You can attend a number of Seaweek events in New Zealand, from night snorkelling, to beach walking, to learning about fish-focussed industrial fishing technology or how you can help whales.

Happy Seaweek!

Photo by Tony Fernandez

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