The waters of the world are crucial to having a healthy planet. Since 2002, The Ocean Project has shined a light on the need to protect and conserve the world's oceans by celebrating World Oceans Day on June 8 each year.

As all oceans are ultimately connected, this means taking care of ocean areas that experience the greatest impact from humans, such as the Gulf of Mexico.

"I think the Deepwater Horizon event, as well as, hurricanes that we experience here really illustrate to the nation how important the Gulf is," Tina Miller-Way, Chair of Discovery Hall Programs at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said during the Love our Gulf event on June 4. "We use the Gulf in so many ways: fisheries, energy resources, recreation, and yet when an event such as a hurricane or an oil spill happens we realize that we're losing that capability."

Dr. Miller-Way organized the Love our Gulf event to highlight the ways we use the Gulf and how our behaviors can affect the Gulf. Priority issues for the Gulf of Mexico were highlighted at a new video kiosk in the Estuarium that was made possible by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Similar kiosks are being developed at other aquariums around the Gulf of Mexico, including one in Veracruz, Mexico.

Along with activities focusing on the different aspects of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors had the chance to help decorate Discovery Hall Programs new field trip bus with their favorite marine animal. Seahorses, turtles, fish and more will make the bus hard to miss as it travels to marine habitats across the island.

About the event, Dr. Miller-Way said, "we had a great time talking with our visitors and sharing information about the Gulf. We hope to be able to make this an annual event."

Do your part year round in support of World Oceans Day by giving up the disposable plastic bags or putting your litter in the trash can.

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program offers more tips for a Clean Water Future.