The oceans are the largest ecosystem on Earth and they play a pivotal role in supporting life throughout our planet. Containing around 80 percent of biodiversity, they offer us food, water, medicines and other essential resources that we rely on daily.
They also help regulate climate, with certain ocean currents influencing weather along coastlines and in deep water. Disruptions to one of these currents can drastically alter global weather patterns and have significant repercussions for us all.
Our Oceans Are the Lungs of the World
Oceans produce half the oxygen in the atmosphere through photosynthesis, which involves millions of sea plants known as phytoplankton using sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and other molecules into energy. Oxygen plays a significant role in maintaining life on land by supporting all levels of our food chain.
Many species of fish, crustaceans and other edible animals rely on the ocean for food; they make up nearly 17% of total animal protein consumed worldwide. Furthermore, seafood provides essential vitamins and minerals necessary for health and growth.
Fishing and aquaculture industries provide employment to over 56 million people, supporting their families and livelihoods while contributing significantly to the economy through shipping and tourism.
When planning your next holiday, it’s essential to consider the effects of our lifestyle on our oceans. Opting for eco-friendly accommodation, purchasing reusable water bottles, and supporting local restaurants that serve sustainable seafood are all beneficial in protecting marine habitats.
You can support local groups that are working to protect marine habitats and wildlife by volunteering at beach cleanups or joining a conservation non-profit.
Oceans absorb 90% of the excess heat produced by burning fossil fuels, leading to warmer waters that can impact fish swimming habits, coral reef health and how marine species reproduce. This could accelerate sea-level rise as well as alter weather events on land.
These changes can be especially severe in places where the ocean meets land, such as Greenland and Antarctica. Furthermore, they have the potential to produce a range of other environmental effects.
Our Oceans Are Full of Mystery
The ocean is home to more than 90% of life on our planet, yet it still harbors a vast number of unidentified creatures. That’s because the sea covers about 70% of Earth’s surface and can extend depths up to 11,000 metres.
Researchers estimate that there could be millions of undiscovered species in our oceans, waiting to be uncovered by researchers. That explains why they estimate nearly 13% of Earth’s living species exist within its oceans.
Take Care of Our Oceans
Conserving our oceans doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Start small by cutting back on carbon emissions, using renewable sources of electricity and water, or joining an ethical seafood club for sustainable seafood choices.