Oceans in Peril

Man’s fascination with our mother ocean stretches back as far as human history itself.

ancient-ocean-travelersCan you imagine, thousands of years ago,as the first humans stood on the African coast and looked out at the mighty blue ocean crashing onto the shores of their continent? Can you imagine the awe, the sense of wonder, and even the fear it instilled?

Even today, many are awestruck by the sheer power and majesty of our ocean. Most of us have experienced some emotional reaction to it, whether it be one of hypnotic calm or one of feeling minuscule by comparison. The ocean has a place carved deep within the human psyche as a place of adventure, danger, and beauty all in one.

It’s impossible to say exactly when humans began exploring the oceans. The truth is, it probably began long before any written records could detail. We don’t know what early voyages ended up at the bottom of our mother ocean, or how the early Polynesian people, for example, got to the islands of the Pacific.

In more modern times, the history of ocean exploration comes to light in the form of books, scrolls, and records. We can read the records of early English expeditions into the unknown in search of the spice islands, and Chinese exploration of Asia and the Pacific.

What these tell us is that men from all walks of life, from aristocrats to nomads, to military men and adventurers have been driven by a deep and undeniable desire to explore and know our ocean.

Yet, sadly, today our mother ocean is in great peril. While the news and media make a great deal of fuss about climate change, and rightly so, a relatively unknown crisis unfolds in our ocean, which if not addressed, will literally lead to the extinction of mankind and much life on earth.

We can’t let this happen. Without a healthy, functioning ocean, human beings can not continue to exist on earth. We depend on her for everything, and it is only when she is damaged beyond repair that we will come to realize this fact. All life on earth, from the crops growing in your field to the birds flying in the sky, depend on a healthy ocean for their existence, even if not directly.

mediterranean-sea-near-turk

Wouldn’t it be a shame if we let the ocean die? What would those early humans say about us if we killed off the source of all life in search of greater profits and temporary convenience? What would the ancient vagabonds who took to the seas in search of something new say if they witnessed us destroying the global body of water upon which we depend entirely and which caused such a sense of majesty in them?

Time is running out for our mother ocean. We’ve got to do something. We can all make a difference by altering our lifestyles in seemingly small and insignificant ways. If we all make small changes, they will soon add up to be great things.

As an old ancient Chinese proverb said: “A great vessel is filled drop by drop”. So too are great efforts made of small ones.

We don’t have a choice but to make those efforts. Our oceans don’t need us, but rather, we need them.

Fascinating Things you Probably Didn’t Know about the Ocean

There’s a lot we don’t know about the ocean, and it will be fascinating in the future to fill in the blanks and close the knowledge gap, learning more about what lies beneath the surface of the majority of our planet.

Yet what we do know about the ocean is just as fascinating! We literally are only beginning to scratch the surface, yet what we have discovered so far is mind-bending.

Being major ocean geeks and lovers, we have decided to compile this post with some of the most interesting and awesome facts about our mother ocean.

Fascinating Facts about the Ocean

The ocean’s depth varies from location to location, but at its deepest point, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, it is 10,994 meters. Yet, the light from the sun only penetrates to a depth of 1,000 meters!

Can you imagine what lies in the deepest, darkest parts of our ocean? It’s somewhat scary to think about, but it also invokes curiosity and wonder. We can’t wait to find out as more and more brave oceanic explorers take the plunge and bring back knowledge of underwater worlds.

ocean ancient ruinsThe ocean also hides many known mysteries and wonders in her depths. From ancient ruins off the coast of Egypt to entire mini-cities in Europe’s southern seas to countless shipwrecks, treasure chests, and inexplicable monuments, the ocean is a treasure trove of ancient secrets.

What will we find next? Nobody knows, and we’re already at a loss to explain some of what we DO know is there.

The ocean holds 97% of water on earth and covers 70% of our planet’s surface. It’s unthinkably big, and if you take the water frozen in the ice caps and glaciers out of the equation, only 1% of the earth’s surface water is NOT in the ocean.

All that water leads to a lot of weight and pressure. At the deepest point, the Mariana Trench again, the pressure is 1000 times greater than at the surface. Imagine that if you can.

Many of the probes sent to the bottom have simply collapsed under this immense pressure, like an empty can of coke under a human boot. When James Cameron went solo to the bottom of the trench, the creaks and cracks could be heard even though his sub was made of specialized metal alloys made to withstand the pressure.

There are also some insanely scary looking creatures down there, living in the shadows. A giant sea squid, for example, has been discovered with a length of 60 feet. Think about that. Recall any 6-foot men you know? Now multiply that by 10. We’d hate to encounter that on a deep sea dive!

giant sea squid

Overall, these things are just a tiny glimpse of what lies beneath. We are constantly learning more about what goes on down in the bowels of our mother ocean. The truth is, we have no idea. We know more about the planet Mars than we do about our own ocean.

What other fascinating facts do you know about the ocean? What creatures have you learned of? What unexplained mysteries have you encountered, and what do you think best explains them?

5 Threats Our Mother Ocean Is Currently Facing

Our mother ocean is the biggest habitat for life on earth.

It has a vital role in keeping our planet healthy but it is facing a lot of ever-growing threats.

In this article, we will be taking a look at the 5 biggest threats to our oceans and what we can do about them.

1. Overfishing

This can be simply stated as catching too many fish for the ocean to support. We are depleting the number of fish in our oceans and populations can’t recover on time.

Over-fishing our ocean

Humans are not content with catching fish close to the shore, so we have gone further and exhausted species that might soon go extinct. Industry and greed are the culprits here and far too many of these fish are wasted.

2. Climate Change

Everyone knows about it by now and it’s affecting the ocean severely.

In 2013, it was reported that temperature in the ocean rose by more than 0.1 degree Celsius each decade between 1970 and 2010. The warming of the ocean is causing some habitats to die, other species to relocate to new areas ,and the sea level to rise.

3. Ocean Acidification

This happens because of excessive CO2 dissolving in the sea forming carbonic acid.

Acidification damages many ocean species that use calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and shells. Ocean acidification also affects the whole ecosystem like the coral reef which is dependent on the formation of calcium carbonate to build reef structures which in turn provide homes for other organisms.

4. Pollution

Environmental enemy number one, pollution can DESTROY marine life and damage the marine environment.

A large quantity of waste is thrown into the ocean including plastics, oil, sewage, sediments and toxins. This can create dead ocean zones where sea dwelling organisms are suffocated due to low oxygen in the water. The biggest dead zone can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, ‘coincidentally’ the site of much oil drilling.

5. Habitat Loss

Habitat loss happens when a natural area is taken over by humans for their own use.

Pollution soon follows, causing the death of coral reefs, destroying the ecosystem and depleting the populations on living organisms.

Coastal development, trawling, and aquaculture are some of the most common human activities that devastate marine habitats which are essential to keeping the ocean healthy.

However, there is hope!

Although we may feel that we cannot do anything or can only do so little to help save our mother ocean, let’s just keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to turn the tide and it only takes one positive step to encourage the change that we want.

what-causes-ocean-pollution

Let us start by sharing and talking about this with other people.

Being efficient in our energy usage and waste disposal can also make a big difference in conserving our ocean.

Lowering our carbon emissions will help slow down the warming and acidification of our oceans, too.

Knowing where the fish we eat are from and if they’re from sustainable sources is also one way in reducing overfishing.

A small change in our lifestyle can actually make a big difference. If everyone makes a small change, that leads to a massive change!

It’s not too late to save our mother ocean. Knowledge is power. Empower your friends and people you know by sharing this article today.

The Mariana Trench – The World’s Deepest Point

Lying to the east of the Mariana islands in the Western Pacific ocean, the Mariana trench represents the deepest point of the world’s oceans.

A colossal 2,5000km long and 69km wide on average, the trench has been seen and explored only a few times by the world’s most daring adventurers.

Very little is known about the Mariana trench, other than that the pressure on the seabed surrounding it is enough to crush a London bus like a can of beans under someone’s foot. The pressure in the water column above the trench floor can reach 1,086 bars, 1000 times greater than atmospheric pressure at sea level.

mariana trench

At its deepest point of 10,994 meters, in a small valley known as the Challenger Deep, nothing can survive.

Only two people have ever descended into the Mariana trench successfully. The first was Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh, in 1960. No photographs were able to be taken at the bottom due to the extreme temperatures. The descent lasted 5 hours in total.

More recently, in March 2012, world-renowned movie director and adventurer James Cameron descended solo into the trench, making a documentary called James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge. This gave, for the first time, a glimpse into what it is like at the deepest known point of the oceans.

mariana trench creatureDescending in a custom made deep sea sub, the Challenger Deep, Cameron successfully descended to the bottom of the trench with only 43 inches of space in which to move.

Yet even after this most recent descent, less is know about the Mariana trench than is known about the surface of Mars. The earth’s oceans and deepest points are fast becoming a powerful draw for explorers, adventurers, and scientists keen to learn more about what goes on in the deepest depths of our planet.

Expect deep sea exploration to continue and the number of expeditions to grow in the coming years. What lies beneath nobody truly knows, and as long as that remains so, curious men and women around the world will be steadily working to close that gap in knowledge.

What other deep sea exploration projects do you know of? What was discovered? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Sharks – A Predator in Peril

Sharks are an amazing creature, essential to the survival of our oceans, yet they get such bad press and are constantly demonized by the media (thanks, Jaws). As a result, sharks are hunted to the point where some species are nearly extinct.

If the extinction of even one major shark group occurs, we are in major trouble and it will have catastrophic consequences for our oceanic ecosystems.

tiger-shark-picture-swimming-pictures_261284

Sharks have inhabited the ocean for 400 million years. They are distinguished by having cartilage instead of bones to form its skeleton. They have 5 to 7 gills slits located on both sides of their bodies. They come in all shapes and sizes from monsters the size of a small bus to tiny reef shark which you could pick up in your arms.

They possess multiple rows of teeth that enable them to eat almost anything in the ocean. Sharks also have the ability to camouflage in the water and as their color can blend in may it hide, move and hunt in the shallowest part of the ocean or the deepest. This is how most of the (vanishingly rare) attacks on humans occur.

Sharks are scattered all over the oceans around the world and can adapt to almost any oceanic environment.

There are 465 species of sharks which are classified into 8 different orders.

Some of the best-known species of sharks are:

Angel Sharks, which are not your usual sharks. They are usually mistaken as other type of sea creatures, mostly as stingrays. This type of shark are not meat eaters but eats mollusks and clams. Their color helps it blend in the sand so they stay at the bottom part of the ocean to go unnoticed.

Hammerhead Sharks, which have hammer-shaped heads, hence the name. They are another type of shark which are considered unique. People get scared of them due to their appearance but little do we know out of 9 hammerhead species only 3 of them can be dangerous. They have highly developed sense of smell and they hunt for prey aggressively.

Reef Sharks like to be alone and doesn’t interact to fellow sharks always unless it’s breeding time. They can adapt anywhere. Reef sharks have very precise features which makes them easier to recognize them: gray color on top, all white or streaks of white underneath and black on the tip of their fins. They can grow up to 6 feet long but most are smaller.

Shark Magnet

Blue Sharks are considered as the fastest among all sharks. They can grow up to 12 feet long. This type of shark are very picky eaters and don’t often feed. People need to be careful of blue sharks though as they are known as one of the most dangerous of all sharks and attacks people. Due to their size and strength, anything this shark sets its sights on as prey is finished.

Great White Sharks, which are the best-known of all types of shark and is known as the most dangerous shark in the entire world. Great whites sharks can grow up to 16 feet long and can weigh around 1,500 – 2,400 pounds. While they generally are docile unless hungry or provoked, it’s advisable to stay away from areas where they have been reported/seen.

Yet despite being such awesome creatures at the very top of the chain, man is putting immense pressure on sharks and driving them to the breaking point.

Shark finning is one of these threats where sharks are being hunted and their fins removed for sale, and the sharks are thrown back into the water where they are left to die.

Thankfully, awareness of this is growing and delicacies like shark fin soup are being boycotted by some high profile people, but it isn’t happening anywhere near fast enough.

More sharks are killed by humans than humans killed by sharks, yet we continue to see them as the predator.

This has to change. If our mother ocean is to survive and thrive, sharks will have just as vital a role in her future as they have in her past. The ocean can’t survive without sharks. Change needs to happen FAST.

What is Global Warming and How Does it Affect the Ocean?

polar-bear-globalwarmingWe’ve all heard the buzz terms ‘Global warming’ and ‘Climate change’ at some stage of our lives.

How many of us can actually say we understand these things, though?

The scary thing is – we really need to!

In fact, we should be much more worried about climate change than we should about terrorism, and if we even spent a percentage of the budget we spend on defence on fixing our environment, we’d ironically do a far better job of ensuring our survival not only as individual nations but as a species as a whole.

Let’s recap on what global warming is before we take a look at how it specifically impacts oceans and ultimately us.

488048-3x2-940x627In a nutshell, global warming occurs when radioactive waves from the sun, called UV rays in common parlance, bounce off the earth’s surface but are unable to escape the layer of smog and carbon-based pollution hanging in our atmosphere, which forces them back down to the surface, causing the temperature at the surface to rise.

It’s a crude, simplified explanation, we know, but it explains the basics.

The problem with temperatures rising is that a sizable portion of the earth’s water is actually frozen in the ice caps at both poles. When temperatures rise, these ice caps melt, ever so slowly but surely, and as they pour into the oceans, they cause sea levels to begin to creep up.

This is problem number one. Coastal areas, which tend to be overly populated, are in great peril as a result of rising sea levels. Imagine the chaos that would unfold in and around Shanghai if the ocean rose by enough to flood a city that size?

The second problem is that rising temperatures in general, cause the temperature of the water in the oceans to rise gradually, too. This is a huge problem since the complex, intertwined and fragile ecosystems which the oceans play crucial roles in are directly threatened by these rising temperatures.

a temperature rise of even 1 degree could cause untold havoc in our oceanic systemsClick To Tweet

It may not seem like much to us, but a temperature rise of even 1 degree could cause untold havoc in our oceanic systems. Life forms from algae to whales would be affected, and as links in the chain begin to snap under the growing pressure, eventually the chain comes apart and the whole ecosystem fails.

The problem, of course, is that the changes global warming is forcing upon our oceans are both too gradual for us to directly notice and are too far removed from our everyday lives to grab our immediate attention.

Yet they are as real as a threat directly in front of our faces. If we don’t take immediate action to reduce our environmental impacts and reduce the speed at which global warming occurs, we could be in for a very ugly ride a lot sooner than you might think.

We’re talking a few decades now rather than centuries before we begin to feel major impacts. Only we, together as a collective, can work to stop the effects of global warming and climate change on our mother ocean.

Global warming is happening NOW. Therefore, our counteractions and solutions need to happen NOW, too.

Global warming is happening NOW. Therefore, our counteractions and solutions need to happen NOW, too.Click To Tweet