Did you know that the largest mountains on Earth have never been climbed? They lie under the ocean, along with the vast majority of all living beings on Earth! The ocean is a majestic mystery; if the seas were the size of your computer screen, the representative amount that has been fully explored by humans would be the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Amazingly, 95% of the ocean has not even been seen by human eyes, let alone explored. Who knows what could be down there – Jurassic sea monsters, new life forms, shipwrecks loaded with treasure, or even clues to predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
With the earth being about 70% water, there is an overwhelming amount of exploring to do. That’s why it is so important to learn about our Oceans. How else are we going to discover our history, where we came from, and how our world is evolving? All these answers can be traced back to the sea, where all life on earth began. Still interested? Join us as we dive a little deeper & reveal our top 5 reasons to study the deep blue sea, while we still can!
Hurricanes, floods, El Nino, La Nina – what do they all have in common? The ocean! Changes in weather prompt people to worry about the Mayan calendar or speculate that the Apocalypse is the cause but in reality, it’s the ocean that’s behind the changes.
Surprisingly, the sediment of the deep ocean is like the rings of a tree, it holds a wealth of knowledge about ocean currents in the last 100,000 years. Scientists have discovered that currents remained stable for years, only to suffer inexplicable jolts where they were thrown off course and the weather changed dramatically.
There are Thousands of Shipwrecks Waiting to be Discovered!
Shipwrecks litter the ocean floor like capsules frozen in time. Shipwrecks found along trade routes offer us a glimpse into the history of entire civilizations, as well as a snapshot into a day in the life of those who perished aboard them. Besides just the gold and silver that treasure hunters seek, cargo from shipwrecks has included bronze and marble statues from ancient Greece, ancient jars filled with the residue of the foods they once contained, and priceless ceramic vases from Asia.
Volcanoes, Earthquakes & the Sea Floor
It wasn’t until 1955 that U. S. Survey ship, Pioneer, discovered magnetic striping on the sea floor of the west coast of the United States. Magnetic striping occurs when grains of magnetite align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field, which has repeatedly changed from north to south and back again due to the Earth’s fluid iron core. This proved that the sea floor was moving, and gave credence to the theory that the continents rest on tectonic plates. The edges of the plates, called plate boundaries, are where the majority of the volcanoes on Earth are found, 90% of the most active volcanoes on Earth are in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where plates are constantly moving.
The best place on Earth that plate boundaries can be observed is the sea floor, where the crust can be seen forming at mid-ocean ridges. Studying the sea floor enables us to learn more about the volcanoes and earthquakes that occur at the plate boundaries, and may one day enable us to predict them.
Stepping into the Ocean is Like Stepping Back in Time!
Quick – what’s the largest animal that ever lived on Earth? No, it’s not a dinosaur and it’s not extinct. The largest animal that has ever lived on Earth is the blue whale. But after hundreds of years of study, we still know very little about this elusive creature.
We used to think the deep sea abyss was devoid of any life, until in the 1970s Dr. Robert Ballard (of Titanic fame) and his crew found hydrothermal vents surrounded by a bounty of sea life. Giant tube worms were found living in the dark, fed by bacteria in their tissues that oxidized sulfur to provide energy. Previously we had thought that all life required the sun, now we know that it can not only survive without it, some creatures are fed by what we would consider toxins.
What else don’t we know and what can ocean creatures teach us?
Shouldn’t We Protect our Planet & Learn About All that it has to Offer?
The ocean is our life support system; it gives us our water and our air. We will only protect what we understand, and we hardly understand our ocean at all. It’s important to understand where our resources come from and how to preserve them. Things like fish, oil, and the importance of the sea food chain. Our future could soon rely on the ocean, it’s not all the way explored and some possibly important minerals could be hiding under the ocean floor.
June 8th is World Oceans Day, a day when people around the globe come together to celebrate our ocean and take action to protect it. And with good cause! The ocean not only makes our world livable, it provides us with food, water, commerce, recreation, and medicine. World Oceans Day gives people across the globe the opportunity to pause and reflect on the critical role the ocean has in sustaining our planet. With awareness comes the opportunity to better understand that the things people do every day have an impact on the health of the ocean and that the health of the ocean has an impact on their daily lives.
What can I do?
This June, challenge yourself to make a 2013 – 2014 commitment to protect the ocean. The theme is about making lasting change and it’s up to people like you to rise up and be the voice for the ocean all year long. Whether you live on the beach or on the prairie, you can still make a difference on World Oceans Day! Check out these great ideas on how you can dive in to make a difference!
There are hundreds of events being held all over the world, find one near you and celebrate with a purpose this World Oceans Day or organize an event yourself! Check out these additional resources for ideas, free materials, event listings & more provided by The Ocean Project: