Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Oceans Day, June 8: A Mari Usque Ad Mare--From Sea to Shining Arabian Sea

A Mari Usque Ad Mare (From Sea to Sea) is the motto of Canada, the second largest country in the world (after Russia, including land and waters), stretching in fact from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Oceans.

Whale watching and tall ship, off the coast of New Brunswick, Atlantic Ocean, Canada

Pacific Ocean, Canada, near Victoria, British Columbia

Canadian Arctic Ocean

Canada then has ample reason to celebrate World Oceans Day, which in fact grew out of a proposal made by the Canadian Government at the 2002 Earth Summit in Rio di Janeiro.

However, other countries also have much to celebrate as water covers most of the earth's surface. Despite its sandy image, these countries include Saudi Arabia, which is bordered east and west by the Red Sea and the Arabian (Persian) Gulf of the Arabian Sea, respectively. The Arabian peninsula itself is by definition bordered by seas on 3 sides, and to the south east the Arabian Sea flows into the Indian Ocean.

No wonder then that Arabs were renowned seafarers and sea traders.

13th century book illustration of an Arab dhow, made of teak sewn with coconut fibre, comprised of a single mast with triangular sail, and steered by a stern rudder
'From Kilwa we sailed to Dhofar...[near the Yemeni border with Oman]. Thoroughbred horses are exported from here to India...a month's journey with a favoring wind...The inhabitants cultivate millet and irrigate it from very deep wells, the water from which is raised in a large bucket drawn up by a number of ropes attached to the waists of slaves. Their principal food is rice imported from India. Its population consists of merchants who live entirely on trade. When a vessel arrives they take the master, captain and writer in procession to the sultan's palace and entertain the entire ship's company for three days in order to gain the goodwill of the shipmasters...In the neighbourhood of the town there are orchards with many banana trees. The bananas are of immense size; one which was weighed in my presence scaled twelve ounces and was pleasant to the taste and very sweet. They grow also betel-trees and coco-palms, which are found only in India and the town of Dhafari...The coco-palm is one of the strangest of trees, and looks exactly like a date-palm. The nut resembles a man's head, for it has marks like eyes and a mouth, and the contents, when it is green, are like the brain. It has fibre like hair, out of which they make ropes, which they use instead of nails to bind their ships together and also as cables...They use [its oil] for lighting and dip bread in it, and the women put it on their hair....We then set out for Oman and arrived there after six days' traveling. It is a fertile land, with streams trees, orchards, palm gardens, and fruit trees of various kinds. Its capital, the town of Nazwa, lies at the foot of a mountain and has fine bazaars and splendid clean mosques. Its inhabitants make a habit of eating meals in the courts of the mosques, every person bringing what he has, and all sitting down to he meal together, and travellers join in with them. They are very warlike and brave, always fighting between themselves. The sultan of Oman is an Arab of the tribe of Azd, and is called Abu Muhammad, which is the title given to every sultan who governs Oman. The towns on the coast are for the most part under the government of Hormuz.'--Ibn Battuta on the Arabian Sea, 14th century

Sohar Castle, Sohar Oman, supposed birthplace of Sindbad the Sailor, and real centre of Muslim trade and wealth before and during the Abbasid Dynasty. 'Sohar, the heart of Oman, lives on the sea coast and it is rich with shops where ships anchor. It is the oldest city in Oman and the most wealthy one. There is no prosperous and developed city on the Persian Sea and Muslim countries other than Sohar.' --Al Istakhri, 10th century description

~14th century rendering of a map of the Persian Gulf by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al-Istakhri, c.977

Little wonder either that Islam spread not only over land throughout the peninsula and beyond, but across the seas, and the Indian Ocean as far as Indonesia.

"And He it is who has made the sea to follow His laws, so that you might eat fresh meat from it, and take from it ornaments which you may wear. And on that sea are ships ploughing through the waves, so that you might go out in search of some of God's bounty, and therefore be grateful to Him." 16:14
"And He it is who has set up for you the stars so that you might be guided by them in the midst of the deep darkness of land and sea: clearly, We have spelled out these messages to people of knowledge!" 6:97
"Seest thou not that the ships sail through the ocean by the grace of Allah?" 31:31
-- Holy Quran
Grand Mosque Banda Aceh, Sumatra, on the Indian Ocean

While Saudi registered events to celebrate World Oceans Day 2009, it seems not to have done so in 2010. Still, KAUST is part of the Saudi program to preserve both the Red Sea Coral and the Red Sea mangroves, as indicated in the posts September 23 Saudi National Day; Inauguration of KAUST and Earth Day 2010--Why We Shouldn't Mess With Mother Nature; and, Saudi's Mangroves, respectively.

Beauty above

Arabian Gulf, near Qatar

Arabian Sea as seen from Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Beauty below

Diving the Farasan Banks,  Saudi Arabia, part of a series by yetitauchen

Diving the Red Sea (Egypt), same video collection by yetitauchen

Other countries are more actively celebrating in 2010:

Malaysia is celebrating with an SOS (Save Our Seafood) campaign for sustainable fishing;
A Malay is pictured here with a tuna caught in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia

Artisanal fishers on an Indonesian beach. (Photo: FIS)

June 8th is World Oceans Day
As a result of a United Nations General Assembly resolution passed in December 2008, World Oceans Day is now officially recognized by the UN as June 8th each year.
The concept for a “World Ocean Day” was first proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and it had been unofficially celebrated every year since then. Since 2002, The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network have helped to promote and coordinate World Oceans Day events worldwide. We help coordinate events and activities with aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations, universities, schools, and businesses. Each year an increasing number of countries and organizations have been marking June 8th as an opportunity to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea.
Together, we also developed and widely circulated a petition to the United Nations urging them to officially recognize World Oceans Day. With help from our Partner organizations, tens of thousands of people from all parts of the world signed online or paper copies of the petition. Congratulations to all for helping to make this happen!
Designation of World Oceans Day provides an important boost to those organizations and individuals who have been deeply committed to ocean conservation. Official UN designation is another important step toward improving the health of our world's ocean.
Now we need to capitalize on this fresh momentum! We hope you will be involved in planning or participating in a World Oceans Day celebration near you!
Please visit the rest of the World Oceans Day website to list your event, get celebration ideas, access the media and outreach kit, and more.

Why Should I Celebrate World Oceans Day?
The world's ocean:
Generates most of the oxygen we breathe
Helps feed us
Regulates our climate
Cleans the water we drink
Offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines
Provides limitless inspiration!
Now we can give back!
Take part in World Oceans Day events and activities this year and help protect our ocean for the future!
It's up to each one of us to help ensure that our ocean is protected and conserved for future generations. World Oceans Day allows us to:
Change perspective - encourage individuals to think about what the ocean means to them and what it has to offer all of us with hopes of conserving it for present and the future generations.
Learn - discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats, how our daily actions affect them, and how we are all interconnected.
Change our ways - we are all connected to the ocean! By taking care of your backyard, you are acting as a caretaker of our ocean. Making small modifications to your everyday habits will greatly benefit our blue planet.
Celebrate - whether you live inland or on the coast we are all connected to the ocean; take the time to think about how the ocean affects you, and how you affect the ocean, and then organize or participate in activities that celebrate our world ocean.

2010 Theme - Oceans of Life
Pick your favorite * Protect your favorite
This year’s theme focuses on our ocean’s great diversity of life and how we can all help in its conservation. Since everyone has a favorite ocean animal, we are interested in connecting their favorite species with what they can do to help conserve our world's ocean. Pick your favorite and protect it - try to pick just one favorite; it’s hard! We can help motivate people to take conservation action: Together, we can make a difference!
The wealth of life in the oceans is so incredibly important for so many reasons:
*  Each of us relies on a healthy ocean with a rich diversity of life to provide most of the oxygen we breathe, much of the food we eat, as well as medicines and other essentials that we need to survive
 * The ocean provides endless opportunities for inspiration and recreation such as diving, snorkeling, fishing, and boating. How much would you enjoy the ocean without its great diversity of life?
 * The greater the diversity of life in the ocean the better job the ocean will do in helping maintain the planet’s normal climate conditions and in adjusting to a changing climate

Celebrating with Dr Seuss, whose One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is 50 years old

Book marks available from The Ocean Project

Happy World Oceans Day!

Wear Blue, Tell 2!

Were you already aware of World Oceans Day?
What 2 people will you tell to spread the word?
What celebrations are happening near you, or in your country?
Do you think Saudi Arabia, or Arabia generally, gets enough recognition as being a sea oriented culture?
What are your gulf, sea, ocean experiences anywhere, whether on shore, in/on the water or below the surface?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

Related posts:
Earth Hour: Australia Started It in 2007; 121 Countries Including Saudi Participate in 2010
Earth Day 2010--Why We Shouldn't Mess With Mother Nature; and, Saudi's Mangroves


Susanne said...

What a beautiful post! I love water pictures. Well, I love most any naturish picture. These are lovely! I didn't know about Ocean Day. See I learn something new from you all the time! :)

I'm glad you put those verses from the Quran. I am currently reading an English translation and did notice references to ships on the sea quite often. Very appropriate for this post!

I don't have any great ocean experiences, but that's not a bad thing in my opinion. I don't really want any memorable tales dealing with sea creatures or pirating. :) We do make yearly trips to the beach - sometimes twice a year - and my husband enjoys riding waves on a boogey board. We've been down there at times when tropical systems are not far off the coast and they tend to create some good waves. Other times, the ocean is rather tranquil. Nice to look at, but not so fun for those wishing to ride the waves!

Also we went to the Bahamas on a cruise ship a few years ago. It was neat being a small person on such a big body of water. Makes you realize somewhat just how tiny humans are in comparison to other things.

OK, that's all I can think of for now. Thanks for the informative and lovely post!

countrygirl said...

I wasn't aware that there was a world ocean day...you learn something new each passing day.

I love water(lake, creeks, rivers and sea)...several years ago I've got the SSI licence with that I can go scuba diving...but sadly I didn't use too much...maybe this summer I will use it in Australia :-)

The sensation of scuba diving is fantastic, is similar to sky diving (i tried it once and i loved it). Even if you snorkle you enter in an alien world where you are a guest.

Wendy said...

Because I live on the very west coast of Canada on the Pacific Ocean I have a very deep respect and love for that wonderful body of water called the Pacific Ocean and all oceans. When I think of BP and what's happening to the world's environment because of them it is just too much sadness to take in.

Chiara said...

Susanne--thank you so much for your commenting, and for sharing your experiences!

You seem to be just north of the really bad ocean weather, it seems.

I have never been on a cruise. Mostly I think I wouldn't want to, and then I imagine I could allow my arm to be twisted to travel around the Mediterranean on a cultural tourism cruise! Or a scuba diving one, or combined!

I can't believe how much time I have spent living on or visiting the Mediterranean and never snorkeled, sailed, windsurfed, or scuba dived though I have done all 4 elsewhere. Must remedy that! :)

Thanks again for your comment!

Chiara said...

Countrygirl--You are braver than I. I have no intention of skydiving! I would like to scuba dive more though, especially so I can recertify. I have the dive school in Cozumel, Mexico all picked out! I may have to stay long enough to become and instructor! :P

I hope you do get to dive in Australia. I saw a fabulous film at an IMAX cinema of diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Well worth it!

Thanks for sharing your love of water and water sports!

Chiara said...

Wendy--you are lucky indeed to live on the Pacific--beautiful even when not so pacific! :)

All the articles on World Oceans Day in the US mentioned the oil geyser ("leak") in the Gulf of Mexico. Was anyone surprised to learn that Halliburton was involved with that oil rig? :(

The environmental fallout I found to disgusting to deal with in this post but I am glad you raised it. If anything it is a good reminded of the interconnectedness we share with the waters of the globe, at the very least those in our quadrant of the globe.

Thanks again for your comment.

I do hope others will share their aquatic appreciation and adventures, with or without alliteration! LOL :)

JON said...



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