The importance of ocean literacy for sailors
The importance of ocean literacy for sailors

Discover why ocean literacy is crucial for sailors and how it can deepen your appreciation for the marine environment while inspiring a sense of stewardship.

The Importance of Ocean Literacy for Sailors

As sailors, we have a unique connection to the ocean. We rely on it for our livelihood, our recreation, and our sense of adventure. But with this connection comes a responsibility to understand and protect the marine environment that we so deeply cherish. In this article, we will explore the concept of ocean literacy, why it is important for sailors, and how we can become more ocean literate in our everyday lives.

What is Ocean Literacy?

Ocean literacy is the understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. It is a multidisciplinary approach to learning about the ocean, encompassing not only marine science but also the social, economic, and cultural aspects of our relationship with the sea. An ocean-literate person is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources.

The Ocean Literacy Framework, developed by the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), outlines seven essential principles that form the foundation of ocean literacy:

  1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features.
  2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.
  3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.
  4. The ocean makes Earth habitable.
  5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
  6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
  7. The ocean is largely unexplored.

By understanding these principles, sailors can better appreciate the complex and interconnected nature of the ocean and the role it plays in our lives.

Why is Ocean Literacy Important for Sailors?

As sailors, we have a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the beauty and power of the ocean. This connection to the sea can inspire a deep sense of stewardship and responsibility for its health and well-being. By becoming more ocean literate, sailors can:

  • Make more informed decisions about how to interact with the marine environment, minimizing our impact on the ocean and its resources.
  • Better understand the ocean’s influence on weather and climate, leading to safer and more enjoyable sailing experiences.
  • Develop a greater appreciation for the diversity of life in the ocean, fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity that can enrich our sailing adventures.
  • Advocate for the protection and conservation of the ocean, using our unique perspective as sailors to raise awareness about the challenges facing the marine environment.

How Can Sailors Become More Ocean Literate?

Becoming more ocean literate is a lifelong journey, and there are many ways for sailors to deepen their understanding of the ocean and its influence on our lives. Here are some suggestions for how to become more ocean literate:

Learn About the Ocean

One of the most important steps in becoming more ocean literate is to learn about the ocean itself. This can involve reading books and articles, attending lectures and workshops, or participating in online courses and webinars. Some excellent resources for learning about the ocean include:

  • NOAA’s Ocean Explorer website, which offers a wealth of information on ocean science, exploration, and education.
  • The Ocean Literacy Network, a community of educators, scientists, and organizations working to promote ocean literacy.
  • The World Ocean Observatory, which provides a wide range of resources on ocean issues, including podcasts, videos, and essays.

Observe and Explore the Ocean

As sailors, we have a unique opportunity to observe and explore the ocean firsthand. By paying close attention to the marine environment, we can learn a great deal about the ocean and its inhabitants. Some ways to observe and explore the ocean include:

  • Watching for marine life, such as birds, fish, and marine mammals, and learning about their behaviors and habitats.
  • Observing the ocean’s physical features, such as currents, tides, and waves, and understanding the forces that shape them.
  • Participating in citizen science projects, such as monitoring water quality or conducting marine life surveys, to contribute to our collective understanding of the ocean.

Practice Responsible Boating

As sailors, our actions on the water can have a significant impact on the health of the ocean. By practicing responsible boating, we can minimize our impact on the marine environment and set a positive example for others to follow. Some tips for responsible boating include:

  • Properly disposing of waste, including trash, sewage, and hazardous materials, to prevent pollution and protect marine life.
  • Using eco-friendly boat cleaning products and practices to reduce the release of harmful chemicals into the water.
  • Avoiding sensitive marine habitats, such as coral reefs and seagrass beds, to prevent damage and disturbance to these important ecosystems.
  • Following guidelines for safe and responsible wildlife viewing, to minimize disturbance to marine animals and protect their natural behaviors.

Share Your Knowledge and Passion

One of the most powerful ways to promote ocean literacy is to share your knowledge and passion for the ocean with others. By engaging in conversations, giving presentations, or writing about your experiences, you can inspire others to learn more about the ocean and take action to protect it. Some ideas for sharing your ocean literacy include:

  • Participating in community events, such as beach cleanups, educational workshops, or film screenings, to raise awareness about ocean issues and solutions.
  • Sharing your sailing adventures on social media, blogs, or other platforms, highlighting the beauty and wonder of the ocean and the importance of protecting it.
  • Mentoring young sailors or participating in youth sailing programs, to foster the next generation of ocean-literate sailors and stewards.


Ocean literacy is an essential skill for sailors, as it deepens our understanding of the marine environment and our responsibility to protect it. By learning about the ocean, observing and exploring its wonders, practicing responsible boating, and sharing our knowledge and passion with others, we can become more ocean literate and contribute to the health and well-being of the ocean for generations to come. So, let’s set sail on this journey of ocean literacy and embrace our role as stewards of the sea.