Updated: Mar 27
Oceans are considered the heart of the planet. Oceans supply most of the oxygen we breathe and provide food and livelihoods for more than a billion people. They are also home to a wondrous array of wild species, from tiny plankton to the biggest creature that’s ever existed – the blue whale.
Some Ocean Benefits
1. More oxygen than the rainforests
It is often thought that rainforests are the primary source of oxygen on the planet, but the truth is that rainforests are only responsible for 28% of the oxygen on earth while oceans are responsible for 70%.
Phytoplankton is a microscopic plant, a component of the plankton, which spends its life being carried by oceanic currents. Phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. They are one of the tiniest beings on the planet, but one of the most important to have around, keeping us alive.
2. Earth climate and temperature control
In many ways, the sea regulates our climate. It soaks up the heat and transports warm water from the equator to the poles, and cold water from the poles to the tropics. Without these currents, the weather would be extreme in some regions, and fewer places would be habitable. It regulates rain and droughts. Holding 97% of the water of our planet, almost all rain that drops on land comes from the sea, through the water cycle.
The water cycle is the sun constantly evaporating ocean water to the sky, creating condensation, therefore new clouds, increasing the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air to form rain and storms that are then carried by trade winds. In fact, almost all rain that falls on land starts off in the ocean. The tropics are particularly rainy because heat absorption, and thus ocean evaporation, is highest in this area.
Most importantly, the ocean absorbs CO2, to keep the carbon cycle, and accordingly temperatures on earth, in balance. It is like our global climate control system.
3. Important source of food
The ocean is the number one source of protein for more than a billion people. Fish accounts for about 15.7% of the animal protein consumed globally. Although, not everything is fish and seafood. Humans have traditionally used algae and sea plants for cooking sushi, seaweed pancit in the Philippines, sea grapes, dulse, etc. There is a growing tendency of using algae and sea plants on our daily and start-ups like, are making sure to introduce it in our supermarkets.
Considering the world population growing by 1.5 million people every week, we are relying on the ocean more and more for survival. Eating fish keeps reducing marine life and also promotes fishing with nets, which then leaves them on the ocean helping climate change, so we should try to look for an alternative source of food, like plant based food, to combine and eat less seafood in the coming years.
4. Incredible biodiversity
The ocean is home to the greatest abundance of life on our planet. When you sail across an ocean, you will see dolphins, whales or a turtle popping up to take a breath. That is just what we see on the surface; there is more life below the ocean’s surface than on land. Experts predict that there are more than 300.000 different species underwater, and is still not clear how many of them we know.
All the creatures that live in the Ocean play an essential role in the trophic chain of the ecosystems. With more than 60% of the world’s population living on the coastline, we all depend on a healthy sea just as much as these beautiful creatures.
5. Shipping routes
The oceans provide convenient transport routes; which we take full advantage of. Around 90% of all trade between countries is carried by ships. These transport everything from food and fuel to construction materials, chemicals, and household items.
6. Therapeutic properties
The anti-viral drugs Zovirax and Acyclovir are obtained from nucleosides isolated from Caribbean sponges. Yondelis is developed from small soft-bodied marine animals, it was the first drug of marine origin to fight cancer.
The ocean is therapeutic. When we see, feel, hear, smell or taste water we are happy and at peace. Research has proven that the so-called blue spaces can directly reduce psychological stress and improve mood.
A healthy ocean keeps us healthy on earth. We are alive right now because of the oceans. Now more than ever the ocean needs to be kept alive by us. The choices we make now determine our future, and our children’s future. We have the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us.
Importance of Algae
The various sorts of algae play significant roles in aquatic ecology, such as:
Microscopic forms that live suspended in the water column, called phytoplankton, provide the food base for most marine food chains. In very high densities (so-called algal blooms) they may discolor the water and outcompete or poison other life forms.
The seaweeds grow mostly in shallow marine waters; some are used as human food or are harvested for useful substances such as agar or fertilizer.
Algae are the most important photosynthesizing organisms on Earth. They capture more of the sun’s energy and produce more oxygen than all plants combined.
They form the foundation of most aquatic food webs, which support an abundance of animals.
These organisms also form mutually beneficial partnerships with other organisms. Algae called zooxanthellae live inside the cells of reef-building coral. In both cases, the algae provide oxygen and complex nutrients to their partner, and in return, they receive protection and simple nutrients. This arrangement enables both partners to survive in conditions that they could not endure alone.
Algae have been used for centuries, especially in Asian countries, for their purported powers to cure or prevent illness as varied as a cough, gout, gallstones, goiter, hypertension, and diarrhea. Recently, algae have been surveyed for anticancer compounds, with several cyan bacteria appearing to contain promising candidates. Diatoms also have been used in forensic medicine, as their presence in the lungs can indicate a person died due to drowning.
Importance of Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are important for many different reasons aside from supposedly containing the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Following are the benefits:
Coral reefs protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms
They provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms
They are the source of nitrogen and other essential nutrients for marine food chains
They assist in carbon and nitrogen-fixing
They help with nutrient recycling.
Also, the fishing industry depends on coral reefs because many fish spawn there and juvenile fish spend time there before making their way to the open sea. The Great Barrier Reef generates more than 1.5 billion dollars every year for the Australian economy, from fishing and tourism.
Why oceans are being threatened?
Global warming is causing alterations in ocean chemistry and many oceanic processes, and it is threatening many species of marine animals that cannot cope with higher temperatures. Overfishing is a serious problem in many parts of the world. Conservationists advocate creating expansive marine reserves to protect the biodiversity of the oceans.
Plastic pollution is affecting our oceans and marine animals adversely.
Global warming is causing sea levels to rise, threatening coastal population centers.
Many pesticides and nutrients used in agriculture end up in the coastal waters, resulting in oxygen depletion that kills marine plants and shellfish.
Factories and industrial plants discharge sewage and other runoff into the oceans.
Oil spills pollute the oceans, through water-sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil each year as tanker spills.
Air pollution is responsible for almost one-third of the toxic contaminants and nutrients that enter coastal areas and oceans.
Invasive species such as poisonous algae, cholera, and countless plants and animals have entered harbor waters and disrupted the ecological balance.
Also, the plankton productivity of the world ocean has declined an estimated 40 percent.
The ability of the Earth’s ocean to produce life is declining substantially in many regions. This is likely due to the combined suppressive effects of toxic chemicals, warming, and acidification. This is measured as declining plankton populations. Plankton is the collective name for the drifting small life, from single cells to larval fishes, that support all life in and around the sea.
How can we help?
We can all help. Choosing differently in daily life, everyone can make their part. We should establish marine parks to protect biodiversity. We should reduce destructive fishing practices such as trawling. the use of military sonar that can harm or kill whales and other marine mammals should be minimized. Also, by controlling carbon fuels and toxic chemicals, we can avoid the declining oceans’ productivity.
A very good option is to choose using compostable and/or dissolvable products, so we can say goodbye to plastic pollution which is affecting our oceans badly. Green Ocean Group products (shopping bags and zero film) which are water-soluble bags and packaging film can heavily reduce the use of plastic and other biodegradable alternatives that needs of recycling process, if they have that option. These bags and film are harmless materials to marine life even if they get to the ocean. While using these, we will be able to reduce plastic waste and your carbon footprint as much as possible.
We all equally share the obligation to protect our oceans and to conserve our biodiversity. Helping our oceans helps us!
Are you doing anything to help our oceans? Please tell us in the comments!