The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind.

Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.

Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.

Below you will find 10 powerful images that reflect the need to protect this vital resource, which is essential for humanity as a whole.

1.   Great Barrier Reef

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By @CatlinSeaviewSurvey

A nice capture of two bottlenose dolphins swimming and playing in the Great Barrier Reef.

Tropical coral reefs are very productive ecosystems. Not only are do they support enormous biodiversity; they are also of immense value to humankind. Today roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat.

2.   Tadpoles Swamp

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By @EikoJones

Beautiful lighting in this shot of a group of tadpoles swimming through a swamp in Canada.

Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. (Source: UN)

3.   Free Play

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By @Hengki24 

A group of children swim freely off the coast of the Philippines.

‘’ We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came. ’’ – John F. Kennedy

4.   Riders on the Storm

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By @justeline

An idyllic coastline shot of Platsa beach in Chios, Greece. It consists of one humongous rock plate extending its way deep into the sea.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. – Source: UN

5.   Schools out

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By @DavidFleetham/NPL/WWF

A mesmerizing capture of a school of brown-striped snapper near the Galapagos Islands.

If the ocean were a country it would be the seventh-largest economy on the planet. Ocean assets such as fisheries, shipping lanes and tourism are worth US$24 trillion and produce an annual value of $2.5 trillion from their outputs. (Source: Nature.com

6.   Black Sea

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Two otters look on helplessly following an oil spill destroyed the waters around them.

The Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig located in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded in April of 2010. This is one of BPs biggest oil disasters. The explosion dumped 210 million gallons of oil. The effect on the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding communities is felt to this day. (Source: Conserve Energy Future)

7.   Marine Pollution

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By @SergioMoraes/Reuters

Endless amounts of dead fish float on the surface of the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A World Economic Forum report, released January 2016, estimates the oceans currently hold more than 150 million tons of plastics and warns that they will contain more plastics than fish by 2050. You can help reduce our impact on the oceans by refusing plastic bags and water bottles, and choosing cosmetics that are free of microbeads.

8.   Inle Dawn

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By @AndyMumford

A breathtaking shot of a fisherman at sunrise in the Inle Lake region in Myanmar. These basket fishermen use their legs to paddle their boats through the reeds and grass.

Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. (Source: UN)

9.   Plastic Oceans

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A young boy scavenges through a sea of trash in search of items to recycle in the Philippines.

At least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean every year. Plastic waste is already having a profound impact on oceans and marine life. It is found inside animals throughout the ocean food chain, from mussels to sea turtles to whales, and is likely to end up in the human food chain.

10.        A Blue World

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By @PhilippeGuillaume

A spectacular close up shot of a woman swimming side by side with a curious turtle off the coast of Martinique.

‘’ I truly believe that saving our oceans is the most important struggle of our time. ’’- Leonardo Di Caprio

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