Alexandria, VA (August 19, 2015) – The ocean–which provides half of the Earth’s oxygen, removes carbon from the atmosphere, supplies food, and inspires medications–makes human life possible on this planet, according to Kristen Yarincik, director of research and education at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Yarincik spoke at the Wildlife Conservation Awareness Campaign series produced by international environmental consulting firm Marstel-Day. In her talk, Yarincik explained that threats to ocean life need to be taken more seriously by policymakers, the general population, and the media. She urged increased ocean research in the face of threats like climate change, warmer ocean temperatures, acidification due to carbon dioxide absorption, oil and gas exploration, and overfishing. Marine ecosystems already struggle to survive. “There is almost no part of the ocean that is untouched by humans. The only places where we see very low impact are at the poles…which in the warming Arctic may soon change,” Yarincik said. “The combined impact is greater than the sum of each, but we don’t yet fully understand the interplay between different pressures. And if we also don’t know all of the species living there and the roles that each plays, then it is difficult to manage for resilience.” Sustaining oceans and ocean species depends on research because understanding can inform decision-making, Yarincik explained. She noted existing gaps in knowledge by pointing out that more than two million species exist in the oceans, but only 250,000 have been named and described. Research heavily depends on policymakers, who allocate the necessary funds. Yarincik described that at a time when ocean science research is needed than ever, it has been politicized and sharply reduced. As a voice of ocean science, the Washington, D.C.-based Consortium for Ocean Leadership takes no stand on specific conservation actions, but advocates for investment in scientific capacity and understanding, as well as using the best available science in decision-making, she said. “Ocean Leadership’s work highlights the point that conservation and sustainability of terrestrial and marine resources are interrelated,” said Richard Engel, manager of Marstel-Day’s National Capital Region Office in Alexandria, Virginia. “Human societies live on land, but they are vitally dependent on the oceans as oxygen and food sources, and as the regulating force of our global climate. Communities need to recognize this interdependence, and to understand that the way we manage our land and natural resources ultimately affects the health of our oceans, which in turn affect the worldwide health of our natural and built environments. It’s all part of an interrelated whole.” Yarincik highlighted several initiatives that the consortium is currently pursuing, including engaging the U.S. military because ocean science can inform solutions for such national security threats as fishing piracy and food security. Involving industry also makes sense because of the importance of ocean science to business development, sustainability, and meeting STEM workforce needs. To help nurture understanding of the importance of marine life and sustaining it, as well as the next generation of leaders, the consortium’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl supports and develops tomorrow’s leaders by sponsoring a national high school competition that exposes students to ocean science as a field of study and related career paths. Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca R. Rubin created the Wildlife Conservation Awareness Campaign (WCAC) speaker series to highlight major wildlife conservation issues and to present ways that individuals and organizations can help. The Marstel-Day WCAC talks are posted on marstel-day.com. Speakers in the series have included senior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official Brian Arroyo identifying ways that the illegal wildlife trade imperils endangered species; Dr. Mamie Parker celebrating efforts to reconnect children to nature; Discover Nature Apps cofounder Evan Hirsche on smartphone technology as a way for Americans to interact with public lands; all-star drummer Rich Redmond’s high-energy performing and philosophy for success coupled with his environmental ethic on ways to serve the planet; 5 Gyres cofounder Marcus Eriksen on the dangers caused by the plastics polluting the oceans; and Earth Journalism Network Executive Director James Fahn on the challenges of environmental reporting, especially in less developed countries.