Saving Our Oceans
As National Geographic was preparing a series of articles in 2016 to celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service we realized that we had an opportunity to bring America's best idea to where it is most urgently needed - our waters. Past anniversaries of the National Parks have led to expansions of the parks system so we thought a story that highlighted marine protected areas – as well as areas worthy of protection – might do the same for expanding ocean parks.
Why? Well, our nation is blue. More than 50% of the contiguous U.S. is under water. Over half of us live within 100 miles of the coast with nearly 39% living in coastal counties. Healthy ecosystems are needed to support fishermen, tourism, and other local businesses. Like our terrestrial parks, oceans and lakes support communities in countless ways. And, fully protected marine areas are proven to combat threats to ocean health. Yet there are no fully protected marine reserves anywhere in the continental U.S. or Alaska. Our only comprehensive ocean protection is currently in the remote Pacific and Hawaii.
Of course, the need for expanded protection for marine ecosystems goes beyond U.S. waters. Conservationists have called for a goal of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2020. It is a challenge, to be sure, but a worthy one. National Geographic Photographer Brian Skerry and I would like to know what the oceans mean to you – how you have celebrated the beauty, the power and the wonder of being in and on the water.
This Your Shot assignment is a call to produce photographs of special underwater places that are worth protecting. While it can be argued that all underwater places are worthy of conservation, we are seeking images that bring the viewer into a special ecosystem or marine habitat and the reasons why you feel strongly about this place. Please make sure in your caption information to let us know where the image was taken and why you feel this area should be protected.
Submission deadline is March 20, 2017 at 12PM EST.
The Importance of Captions
Many thanks to everyone that has submitted to the ‘Saving Our Oceans’ assignment on Your Shot! It has been clear from the moment we began reviewing images that each photographer has a personal connection with the sea and understands the complex relationships of wildlife within these ecosystems.
In the days that remain with this assignment, we would love to see images and read captions that explain why specific locations deserve protection. Beautiful photographs are always interesting, but understanding the relationship an animal has with a special place helps people better understand why conservation is needed. Tell us why the places you love in the sea are important to you, what you have observed and why others should care.