Last-Minute Holiday Gifts

Gifts for Someone Who Loves the Ocean

Do you know someone who loves marine life or nature? Check out this gift guide of some unique items, many of which can be purchased at the last minute or online.  You could delight the marine enthusiast in your life even more by combining some of these items into a marine-themed gift basket! Thanks to Melissa Mayntz, the Guide to Birding and Wild Birds for her suggestions for this article!

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Donate to a Charity

Transplanting Corals / Stephen Frink / Image Source / Getty Images
Transplanting Corals. Stephen Frink / Image Source / Getty Images

Maybe you've already bought the recipient every whale/dolphin/shark/etc. knick knack there is. A donation to a marine life charity in the recipient's name is a great gift. There are organizations out there that are large and small, focused broadly on marine conservation, and narrowly on helping particular species or regions. If you need suggestion or help finding a charity, feel free to e-mail me for ideas.

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Gift a Gift Membership

Underwater awe, Maui, Hawaii / Suzanne Puttman Photography / Moment / Getty Images
Underwater awe, Maui, Hawaii. Suzanne Puttman Photography / Moment / Getty Images
Along the lines of donating to a charity, you could purchase an individual or family membership to a local aquarium or science center. Your recipient will remember your kind gesture every time they visit! This gift is especially good for families.
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"Adopt" a Marine Animal

Whale Shark
Whale Shark and Divers, Wolfe Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Michele Westmorland / Getty Images

A virtual adoption of a marine animal such as a whale, seal, shark or seabird is like buying a membership to an organization, in that you're making a donation to support the organization's mission, but the result is a little more tangible. You'll likely get an adoption kit with an adoption certificate and a detailed life history of the animal you've adopted. This is a great gift for kids, who are often thrilled with the idea of having their "own" marine animal! Tip: make sure the organization will stay in touch with the adopter throughout the year to give them information on their animals' whereabouts - I've heard complaints from people who plunked down a donation but never heard anything from the organization after their initial thank you.

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Give An Interaction With Marine Life

Humpback Whales Lunge-Feeding / Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation
Two humpback whales lunge-feeding in front of a whale watch boat off the New Hampshire coast. © Jennifer Kennedy, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Consevation

If your gift recipient is adventurous, you could give them a gift certificate or offer to accompany them on a trip to view marine life - such as a whale or seal watching trip, snorkeling or Scuba diving tour, or swim-with-dolphins programs. Try to support responsible, eco-friendly operators when making your purchase. You could accompany your gift with a field guide listing the species they might see on their trip.

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Marine Life CDs and DVDs

Humpback Whale, An Example of a Viviparous Marine Animal
Humpback whale with newborn calf, Socorro Island, Revillagigedo archipelago, Pacific Ocean, Mexico. Gerard Soury/Photodisc/Getty Images

Give a CD of marine life sounds, such as a CD featuring whale songs, or a DVD about marine life (the Discovery Channel Store has a bunch) perhaps accompanied by a book about marine life.

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Marine Life Books

Citizens of the Sea Book Cover
Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From the Census of Marine Life. Courtesy National Geographic

There are a variety of books about marine life, ranging from fictional stories to non-fiction, science-based books and coffee table books. Some of my favorites are World Ocean Census, which features beautiful images and accounts of exciting, innovative research, Voyage of the Turtle, with great information on leatherback turtles, and the Secret Life of Lobsters, an extremely fun read about lobster biology and research.

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Humpback Whale / Jennifer Kennedy, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation
A humpback whale surfaces near a whale watching boat. The green in the water is the humpback's flipper, or pectoral fin. The flipper is white, but shows up bright green underwater due to all the plankton in the Gulf of Maine. © Jennifer Kennedy, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation
Maybe you know someone who is just getting into observing marine life such as whales or seabirds. If so, binoculars would be a great gift, especially when combined with an informative field guide! Here's a helpful guide to buying binoculars
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Marine Life Calendar

There are lots of calendars out there which feature beautiful images of marine life, many of which are produced by non-profit organizations, so your purchase will help further their work.

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Marine Life Gifts for the Home

Other great gift ideas include artwork, marine life sculptures, stationery, jewelry, and shells or shell-themed decorations or housewares. There are lots of options here! Nautical designs seem to be trendy lately, and you can often find things like towels, soap holders, glasses and tableware that have a marine life or nautical theme.