Just a small look at a map of the Earth will tell you one thing — the ocean covers a majority of our planet. In fact, it makes up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and contains the majority of all water on Earth. The ocean is our life source and therefore vital to our survival. Every year on June 8 we celebrate World Ocean Day to celebrate our planet’s most valuable resource. In today’s blog post, we want to talk about four interesting facts that you should know about the ocean.
1. OXYGEN PROVIDER
According to scientists, the ocean produces about 50-80% of our planet’s oxygen supply. This is due to oceanic plankton, algae, plants or bacteria that can photosynthesize. But not all of this oxygen actually ends up in the air we breathe. On the contrary, about the same amount of oxygen produced is consumed by marine animals who need it to breathe, or for cellular respiration by both plants and animals.
Although the ocean covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, we know very little about the underwater world. According to the NOAA, more than 80 percent of the underwater realm remain unexplored and unmapped. This is mostly due to the fact that underwater explorations are not only difficult, but also expensive. Consequently, the number of species living in the ocean is unknown and can only be estimated. Scientists assume that about 91 percent of ocean species have yet to be classified. According to the UN Chronicle, “the ocean is one of the main repositories of the world’s biodiversity. It constitutes over 90 per cent of the habitable space on the planet and contains some 250,000 known species, with many more remaining to be discovered.” Unfortunately, researchers have also found that along with the continued decline in the health of many marine ecosystems, extinction rates are rising and leading to a decrease in marine species.
3. TEMPERATURE REGULATOR
Without the ocean, much less of the Earth’s land would be habitable for us. The ocean absorbs and stores solar radiation and then helps distributing it around the globe with its currents. Since the Sun’s radiation is not distributed evenly all over the planet, we need the ocean to regulate the temperature. Weather patterns and modest temperatures are therefore also strongly influenced by the ocean.
4. CO2 ABSORPTION
Did you know that the ocean absorbs about 30% of all carbon dioxide that is being released into our planet’s atmosphere? The ocean, therefore, helps to keep our air clean and breathable. However, ever since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased drastically and the ocean is at risk because of this. When the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, it results in the production of a weak acid called carbonic acid. “As levels of atmospheric CO2 increase from human activity such as burning fossil fuels (e.g., car emissions) and changing land use (e.g., deforestation), the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean also increases.” (NOAA) This is slowly but surely leading to the acidification of the ocean, which is putting marine wildlife at risk.
As the facts above have shown, the ocean is not only vital to our survival but is home to countless species of marine wildlife which can be put at risk by our overconsumption. Therefore, we must take immediate action to protect the ocean, as all of our lives depend on it. We would love to hear your interesting ocean facts as well! Feel free to leave them in the comments below!