You might have been taught that the world has five oceans.

Secretary of State John Kerry challenges that view. He looks past cartographers’ lines and sees a single ocean, covering three-quarters of the planet, essential to life but under threat from human activity as never before.

“It’s a great big ocean. It’s wonderful to tip your toes in it and swim in it and go to the beach and enjoy it, but it needs to be protected,” Kerry has said.

This year, hundreds of the world’s leaders on ocean issues will converge at the U.S. Department of State in Washington September 15–16 for the third Our Ocean Conference. There they will find ways to preserve this critical resource from pollution, unregulated fishing and carbon emissions.

Attendees will immerse themselves in the most critical issues facing the ocean with political and environmental leaders, celebrities and the next generation of ocean leaders.

A parallel event to the Our Ocean conference is a leadership summit at Georgetown University, where 150 university students from around the world will gather to build leadership strategies to spur global action. Throughout the event, artists and innovators will showcase reclaimed plastic sculptures, ocean films and tons of cool tech.

If you’ve already been active in helping to protect the ocean, share your story through 1,000 Ocean Actions. Some participants will be featured at the conference.

You can follow the proceedings at #OurOcean and @StateDeptOES.