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Be the Change: Working and Volunteering to Save the Ocean
From islands of plastic bottles in deep water to chemical spills on the shore, our oceans need a lot of help. Learn how you can protect oceans and marine life through careers, degrees, and activism.
Last Updated: 08/14/2020
Meet the Expert
Anna Zivian is Senior Research Fellow at Ocean Conservancy, supporting Ocean Conservancy’s science-based programs. Previously, she was Associate Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Knowledge Management and Senior Manager of the Ocean Planning program. She is currently focusing on issues of ocean climate change mitigation and adaptation. In addition to her work on ocean science and policy, Anna’s past research looks at the intersection of environmental policy, science, and society, and, in particular, issues of democracy and public participation in science. Anna is also co-chair of the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network Development Team, working on bringing knowledge to action. Prior to her work on the ocean, Anna served as an elected official in Colorado for ten years. Anna earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies in 2011 from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her undergraduate studies were in Russian and Soviet Studies at Harvard University, where she earned her B.A. in 1988.
Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface and producing half the oxygen we breathe, oceans are crucial to sustaining life. Not only do they regulate the climate, but oceans also play a significant role in global economies. More than three-quarters of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation, and U.S. ocean-dependent businesses employ 3 million people and create $282 billion in goods and services, according to the National Ocean Service.
Sadly, pollution, climate change, and overfishing threaten these vast bodies of water. The good news is, you can make a difference. Whether you want to save marine animals or help with general conservation efforts, learn how to take action through volunteering, college degree programs, and ocean-focused career paths.
Why Saving the Ocean Matters
From ensuring a safe food supply to protecting endangered wildlife, there are many reasons why we should all be concerned about the health of the world’s oceans. If we fail to protect the ocean, it could negatively impact everyone. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common questions people have about ocean conservation.
How You Can Get Involved Protecting the Ocean
Everyone can help with ocean conservation, regardless of whether you live along the coastline or in the Midwest. Making some simple changes to your lifestyle may have a profound impact on the environment. Or if you want to play a larger role in the effort, you could become an advocate or volunteer for a marine conservation organization.
Career and Degree Fields Where You Can Help Save Our Oceans
Government and ocean advocacy organizations have diverse needs. They may require scientists to do research, writers to complete grant applications and administrators to oversee operations. There are also a number of careers, such as those in the media and broadcasting, outside of these organizations which can promote ocean and marine wildlife preservation.
Here are some examples of the diverse career and degree options available for those who want to save the ocean.
Note: Career salary and job growth data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data for careers not covered by the BLS was collected from closely-related professions.
Top Ocean and Marine Conservation Organizations to Work For
Resources on Ocean Conservation Career Paths
Marine CareersMaintained by the New Hampshire Sea Grant, this website has a wealth of information about ocean-related careers, including interviews with workers in the field.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationExplore more than 30 ocean and marine careers on this government website.
Scuba DivingFor a comprehensive list of nonprofits focused on marine conservation, check out this page from Scuba Diving.
Q&A with Anna Zivian of the Ocean Conservancy
Anna Zivian is Senior Research Fellow at Ocean Conservancy, supporting Ocean Conservancy’s science-based programs. She is currently focusing on issues of ocean climate change mitigation and adaptation. Anna is also co-chair of the Ocean Knowledge-Action Network Development Team, working on bringing knowledge to action.