LIFE BELOW WATER - The main objective of this lesson is to address and educate students regarding marine pollution of all kinds and to further provide and supply the intellectual tools necessary to cultivate sustainable efforts and resolutions in order to minimize such pollution by year 2030.




Prior Learning

Knowledge and understanding of:
  • The effects and importance our oceans have on our planet and everyday life- “The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counterbalance the effects of climate change”



Ocean Acidification:- decrease in pH of the ocean caused by the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide

pH: a logarithmic scale of hydrogen ion concentration

Overfishing: Catching too much fish for the system to support leads to an overall degradation to the system. Overfishing is a non-sustainable use of the oceans.

World Trade Organisation fisheries subsidies negotiation: WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched in 2001 at the Doha Ministerial Conference, with a mandate to "clarify and improve" existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. That mandate was elaborated in 2005 at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, including with a call for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing

Bycatch: the unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species



Physical- Restless Atmosphere

Physical- Restless Atmosphere








  1. Gain awareness of our oceans’ current state as a result of disastrous human implications- ocean acidification, fisheries/fishing methods (bycatch-destroyed ecosystems) -overfishing etc.

  2. Discuss sustainable efforts that can be utilized in order to decrease these effects by year 2030- regulations, spreading knowledge, emphasize impacts of ocean acidification etc.


What is life below water?

What one calls life below water includes everything that is living under the surface: mammals, various fishes and species, plants, etc. They are resources that the humankind needs to live; there is therefore an urgent need to care about it and to sustainably use these resources. Recycling, reusing, avoiding plastics are some of the actions which could improve our oceans’ sustainability.

Targets for Life below water:

  • By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

  • By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

  • Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels

  • By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics

  • By 2020, conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information

  • By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation

  • By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism

  • Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries

  • Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets

  • Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want



Watch the short film below: 

Some facts to think about…

  • In the US and UK, 550 million straws thrown away every day

  • Worldwide, over 500 billion plastic bottles used every year

  • Worldwide, up to 1 trillion plastic bags discarded every year

  • In the US, over 27.4 billion disposables cloth thrown away every year

  • In the US, over 2 billion disposable razors thrown away every year

  • Worldwide, over 100.000 tons of gum discarded every year

  • There are over 300.000 plastic beads in a tube of facewash

  • 60% of the world’s plastic waste comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand

Let’s see what you know about ocean pollution…

  • What is the most common element that is found in the ocean?

Plastic. It does not get break down easily and is often considered as food by marine animals.

  • How many seabirds are killed by ocean pollution each year?

Over one million. Also, three hundred thousand dolphins and porpoises die each year, and one hundred thousand sea mammals.

  • Do you think ocean pollution could be so bad that an island could be only made of garbage?

Yes. There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific Ocean: the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California.

  • Do you think ocean pollution could undermine our own nutrition and food habits?

It actually could. People get contaminated by eating contaminated seafood. Small animals at the bottom of food chain absorb the chemicals as part of their food. These small animals are then eaten by larger animals that again increases the concentration of chemicals.

  • What is a dead zone?

It is an area in the ocean in which there is an insufficient amount of oxygen. They are caused by pollution, making marine animals unable to live in these underwater areas because there is not enough oxygen circulating to allow them to survive.


Have you heard about the Ocean Cleanup?

It is a system using the ocean currents as its driving force to catch and concentrate the plastic. A full-scale system roll-out could clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years. Are you hopeful enough to believe the oceans might be clean soon? Check the Ocean Cleanup website to discover how it works and what you can do.



Check the interactive map from Dumpark showing how much plastic is found in the world’s oceans…


What is ocean acidification?

It is the process of changes in the water’s chemistry caused by dissolution of carbon dioxide in the oceans.

Chemical oceanographer Triona McGrath researches how the oceans are changing due to human activities; in a TED talk, she shows us what the “evil twin of climate change” looks like and that life depends on it.



1. Let’s eat water, now!

Ooho is an eatable bubble of water. It is 100% made of plants and seaweed, biodegradable in 4 to 6 weeks. It can be flavoured, coloured, and is cheaper than plastic. The aim of Ooho is to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting the environmental impact. Ooho consumes 5 times less CO2 and 9 times less energy than PET (plastic). The Ooho bubble can be produced for a lower cost than its plastic counterpart. What do you think about eatable water? Do you think it could be a solution to limit the use of plastic in the future? Get more information on their website…


2. Boyan Slat, a young inventor like you

Boyan is a Dutch inventor and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the Ocean Cleanup, this system using the ocean currents to catch and concentrate plastic. He was born July 27, 1994: he is therefore from the same generation as you. Keeping in mind the objective of conserving the marine resources and using them sustainably, what would you like to invent? What for? Draw an idea and explain your project to your peers.


3. Take the quiz

Here is a quiz from the New York Times to find out what your daily plastic habit does to the planet. When it comes to choose between bottled water or tap, why does your choice matter? Take the quiz and have a chat about your results…

4. Find solutions to protect life below water

You are the generation that will have to live with water pollution and the disappearance of marine resources if nothing changes. The world needs you! What if you were the generation that could change everything? Knowing facts, figures and issues to come, find solutions with your peers. Make a global list and promise to get 5 of them done by the end of the month. Going step by step will make things easier for you. Here are some ideas to help you find solutions…

Stop using disposable plastics (bags, straws, cups, …)

Stop buying water

Boycott microbeads (you can use the app Beat The Microbead on your phone!)


Purchase items second-hand

5. It is your turn to create something!

Pierre Kasoumloum is a young Cameroon. He had the idea of recycling plastic to use it instead of concrete to make eco-friendly cobblestones. He collects plastic, then melts it using fire. Once melted, he mixes this plastic with sand and puts the mix in a mould, letting it dry for 15 minutes. At the end, he obtains recycled cobblestones even more solid than concrete. It is your turn to create something using plastic meant to be recycled! Collect plastic with your friends, and use it to create your own item. Here are some ideas…

Flower pot




6. Don’t forget to recycle

Check the recycling bins around you: at home, in your school, where you live and travel… It has to become an habit for all!


This workshop was written and designed by:

Lisa Gouraud is an International Peace Studies master student at Trinity College of Dublin. Her academic interests mainly focus on the Middle-Eastern region where she used to live, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Caitlin Banke is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Menlo College and will be concluding her Masters Degree from Trinity College Dublin in International Peace Studies in November 2018. Caitlin has focused her studies and work around women and children's issues.


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