Image of a young woman smiling and holding a camera
Inka Cresswell realised that she could reach a larger audience through filmmaking. Image credit: Inka Cresswell

World Ocean Day is an annual event celebrating ocean life and promoting marine conservation. The event takes place on June 8 and is an opportunity to learn more about our oceans and how we can protect them.

The event was established in 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly. According to World Ocean Day, their aim is to ‘unite the world to protect and restore’ oceans on a day where ‘people around our blue planet celebrate and honour’ the sea.

World Ocean Day supports conservation, and works collaboratively with over 150 countries and hosted more than 15,000 events in 2022.

The day is supported by the Youth Advisory Council who aim to educate young people about ocean conservation. It’s aimed at schools and organisations, encouraging them to get involved with charities that support marine life.

Inka Cresswell, 29, is a UK based marine biologist and filmmaker, and is the host of this year’s World Ocean Day for schools. She accepted this responsibility with the belief that “there’s something really powerful about capturing young minds.”

Last year saw over 30,000 students in 26 countries join to “share the love of the ocean and the ways that people can protect it.”

Inka’s own relationship with the ocean began at a young age. Her childhood was filled of memories by the sea in Brighton. “I grew up by the ocean and spent a lot of time exploring my local coastline snorkelling with my family.”

She adds that by 6 years old knew she wanted to become a marine biologist and says it wasn’t a surprise to anyone when she pursued this goal at university.

An image of a young woman scuba diving holding a camera
Inka’s works closely with scientists in her filmmaking and often discovers new behaviours of marine life. Image credit: Inka Cresswell

She says that teaching the next generation about ocean conservation can “have such a big impact on the way they live their life, and the way they interact with nature.”

Her love of filmmaking began when her dad bought her a small disposable camera when she was a child so that she “would learn breathing control for scuba diving, because [she] was so focused on the camera.”

As Inka has developed her knowledge of marine biology alongside her passion for filmmaking, she “found that the two complement each other really well.”

She adds “I realised that it was through film that I could connect with the largest audience. Using film was always about conservation, and how I could be effective in that space.”

Inka is also focused on restoration, after seeing first-hand the effects of overfishing, pollution, and acidification. “I think that when you look at our oceans, they’re in such bad condition so the idea of conserving that space isn’t something that I would like to actively encourage.”

According to Sea Save and Sea Shepherd approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean annually and if this rate of pollution continues, there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. In some parts of the ocean, plastic particles already outnumber plankton.

Due to the damaged condition of our oceans Inka says she is now promoting the idea of “rebuilding and ensuring that these ecosystems are improving so that we’re not just leaving what we have for the next generation, but giving them something better, something healthier. Something thriving and living.”

My number one bit of advice is to spend more time in the ocean

Filmmaking allows her to be proactive in promoting restoration “it’s a great kind of collaborative relationship between film and science. You become an overnight specialist, which is a really weird and wonderful bonus.”

Inka is also an ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society, and partners with organisations such as world ocean day to promote improving the ocean. She laughs saying she’s always got “one foot in ocean conservation and one foot in the filmmaking world.”

She encourages people to “take the time to educate yourself about how your personal choices can impact our oceans.” Practicing ocean friendly habits such as sustainable and local eating, using a Guppy Friend laundry bag, or even litter picking can help.

She says it’s easy to feel “overwhelmed with eco-anxiety” but World Ocean Day allows everyone to “focus on all of the amazing work that these organisations are doing, and it really puts a spotlight on the people working in that space and being able to bring those messages to a global audience.”

For Inka “the most important thing about world ocean day,” remains inspiring young minds and “showing people this is something that they should be fighting for, that there’s still hope.

“My number one bit of advice is to spend more time in the ocean. I think that the more time we spend in the sea, the more that we appreciate it.”

She adds “the ocean has fantastic restorative properties, it’s hugely beneficial to our mental health, and physical health. And I think maintaining that relationship with that ocean is so important,” as once you are connected to the ocean you will want to protect it and “then all of these other things become second nature.”

image of a young woman standing on a concrete pier out at sea
Inka advises everyone to spend time with the ocean to connect with nature. Image credit: Inka Cresswell