Human beings share a lot of history with the ocean. It forms the basis of most theories about the origin of life on Earth and plays a major role in our literature and arts. Odysseus, Ahab, Captain Nemo; even some of our mythology comes from the oceans, like mermaids, sirens, and the Kraken.
Oceans cover 2/3rd of the Earth. It is a biome teeming with life, hiding beneath the unexplored deep. Its diversity is unlike anything else found on the planet. Oceanic flora and fauna have some of the most amazingly complex designs, as well as the simplest. The jellyfish, for example, has been around for 650 million years. That would make them older than the dinosaurs! It is even more surprising that they haven’t evolved much since then and still retain the same features they have had for the last 650 million years.
Unsurprisingly, most of our everyday products come from the ocean too. Your toothpaste is made from algae that come from the ocean, and of course, most of our fish comes from it.
The oceans are havens overflowing with creatures big and small, but both are vital for ours as well as the world’s survival.
Here are a few reasons why the oceans are so important for us:
- Oxygen so you can breathe
The oceans account for around 50% of oxygen production, which is even more than the amount rainforests produce. While there is no visible forest in the ocean, life-giving oxygen comes from tiny phytoplankton, some of the tiniest organisms out there but one of the most crucial. Phytoplankton holds the oceanic food chain together and is found on oceans’ surfaces, nearer to the sunlight.
- Food supply
Fish account for around 15.7% of protein consumption and serve as the number one source of protein for more than a billion people. But not all the food that comes from the ocean is fish and fish products. Algae and seaweed have been part of South Asian cuisines for hundreds of years and are now being touted as alternative sources of food and nutrition.
- Cloudy or clear?
Oceans regulate climate and weather conditions. Land breeze and sea breeze, which we all know about, come from the ocean and control the heating and cooling of the land. Rain, heat transportation, current cycles, carbon cycles; is all controlled by the ocean. Incoming solar radiation is absorbed at a much higher rate than land.
- Jobs and the sea
Since ancient times, oceans have served as the main trading route. Oceanic trade began long before the Silk Road and later became known as the Maritime Silk Road. Around 3.3 million jobs have a direct dependence on the ocean, and 45% of the GDP of the United States of America comes from the ocean and the Great Lakes.
Oceans are the lifeblood of planet Earth. It is inherent to our survival and the planet’s well-being that we keep them clean. Not only will this aid us in our fight against climate change, but the unexplored deep is a fascinating place on Earth. As Plato said, “The sea cures all ailments of Man.” Let’s keep it around for that.