Innovation That Matters

The Earthshot Prize: Revive our oceans

Springwise Earthshot

From a bubble barrier to seeding seaweed forests, discover The Earthsot Prize finalists giving a boost to our oceans

Our oceans are under threat. A third of reef corals, and 37 per cent of shark and ray species are facing extinction. And while animal species are declining, ocean plastic is booming. If we don’t change our ways, by 2040, the amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple. But all is not doom and gloom. According to the United Nations, oceans are ‘the world’s greatest ally against climate change’. Around 25 per cent of carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean, with marine eco-systems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove swamps, and kelp forests acting as potent carbon sinks.

In December, The Earthshot Prize will place a spotlight on the innovators who are working to revive our blue planet.


Our seas are choking on plastic. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, there is currently 75 to 199 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean. How does it get there? A large proportion comes from the world’s rivers, with 1.8 billion kilogrammes of plastic swept from rivers to the sea each year. And this flow of pollution is expected to triple by 2040. For this reason, Netherlands-based startup The Great Bubble Barrier is focusing on removing plastic before it ever reaches the ocean. Its solution is to create a ‘bubble curtain’ by pumping air through a tube that runs along the riverbed. Read more


What do you picture when you think of deforestation? The burning of the Amazon perhaps? Deforestation on land captures our imagination, but the ocean has its own version. Every year, three million hectares of marine vegetation is lost. And over the past 50 years, there has been a 50 per cent decline in the world’s kelp forests. But now, SeaForester has developed a revolutionary low-cost technique for restoring kelp forests. Read more


According to archaeologists, indigenous people have inhabited Australia for at least 65,000 years, building up a body of knowledge that amounts to one of the oldest continuous civilisations on earth. Now, a programme is putting local indigenous communities at the heart of efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The project empowers indigenous women to use their traditional knowledge while training in digital technologies, geospatial information, automation, and robotics. Read more

Written by: Matthew Hempstead

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