NEWS AND STORIES



10 Reasons Our Ocean Is Amazing and Deserves Our Respect

Jun 06 2021
Photo courtesy: Tom Vierus / Ocean Image Bank

On World Oceans Day, see why everyone should care about one of the most mysterious, life-supporting, and invaluable habitats on the planet. 

The Ocean Covers 71% Of Earth's Surface

The ocean defines our planet. With a surface area of 139 million square miles (more than 36 United States of Americas) and an average depth of over 12,000 feet, our ocean contains 97% of Earth’s total water. 

Astronaut aboard the International Space Station takes a picture over the Caribbean. Photo courtesy NASA
From the shallows to its deepest trenches, sea cucumbers can be found throughout the world's ocean. Photo courtesy NOAA Ocean Exploration

More Than 80% of the Planet’s Ocean Hasn't Been Explored

Think about this: We have better maps of the surface of Mars and the Moon than we do of the bottom of our ocean. Even with recent technology advances, the ocean remains one of the last great frontiers. 

The Ocean Produces At Least Half of Earth's Oxygen

Every other breath (and maybe more) we take comes from the ocean. And if you need to get specific with your gratitude, thank oceanic plankton, seaweeds and seagrasses. Plankton produce the largest amount of oxygen.  These organisms are microscopic single-cell plants that take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

The Ocean in Data Points

Average Depth

12,080 Feet

Surface Area

139 million sq. mi

U.S. Seafloor Mapped

50%

The Majority of Life on Earth Is Aquatic

Video courtesy The Ocean Agency

A remarkable 99% of the world’s biosphere, the spaces and places where life exists, call our ocean home. Scientists estimate between 700,000 to a million species live here and roughly two-thirds of these haven’t even been discovered or officially described. 

School of barracuda, Solomon Islands. Photo courtesy Tracey Jennings / Ocean Image Bank

The ocean serves as the world's largest source of protein

Almost 1 billion people (12 % of the world population) depend on seafood from fisheries and aquaculture as their primary source of animal protein according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. But every year, more than 11 million tons of fish go to waste due to destructive fishing practices. This is enough to fill 4,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  

The world’s largest living structure is in the ocean

If you guessed the Great Barrier Reef, you’re right. The only living structure on Earth visible from space, Australia’s great natural wonder stretches nearly 1,500 miles over an area of 133,000 square miles, and comprises over 3,000 individual coral reef systems. 

The Great Barrier Reef seen from above. Photo courtesy Katerina Katopis / Ocean Image Bank

Half of the ocean's corals have died over the past 50 years

After Bleaching
Before Bleaching
Before and after bleaching in American Samoa. Photo courtesy The Ocean Agency / Ocean Image Bank

Warmer sea temperatures driven by human-caused climate change have bleached our planet’s coral to death. If average global temperatures increase beyond 1.5 Celsius, experts suggest we’ll lose all the world’s coral reefs. 

The most single revelatory three minutes for me was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. 

— Sir David Attenborough

The ocean is our biggest ally in the fight against climate change

The ocean act as our global climate control system. It absorbs and re-distributes excess heat, stores carbon dioxide, and its currents keep the planet habitable by making sure places don’t get too hot or cold. The ocean has protected us from the worst effects of human-caused climate change, but it’s heating up, becoming more acidic and less oxygen-rich, pushing Earth’s life support system to its limits. 

Warming temperatures and seas are rapidly melting Greenland's glaciers (seen here). Photo courtesy Andy Brunner.
Photo courtesy Jeff Hester / Ocean Image Bank

At Least 3 Billion People Depend on the Ocean for Their Livelihood

You can't put a price on the ocean. But if you could, economists suggest ocean-based industries and resources is worth US$3 trillion per year or 5% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

A healthy ocean improves our health

Paddle boarders over a coral reef at sunset. Photo courtesy Grant Thomas / Ocean Image Bank

Our health is intimately tied to the ocean. Take out the food, jobs, and oxygen that it provides, the ocean serves as a medicine cabinet. Active biological compounds that fight cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease are all sourced from ocean life. And there are more potential medicines in the ocean, still waiting to be found. Scientists are even using organisms discovered at extreme depths to speed up the world’s COVID-19 response. 

A healthy ocean saves lives, protects our health, and the future of our planet.