The Ocean is the Earth’s largest ecosystem and most precious resource. The fecundity and diversity of the Ocean matched with its prolific beauty makes it undeniably valuable to humans and animals everywhere. In sharing a few key ideas regarding the beauty of the ocean, it is hoped that a renewed appreciation and respect will be generated with the purpose of boosting environmental awareness and action both of which are going necessary to the integrity and health of the ocean. The environmental and energetic presence of the ocean is certainly well worth the effort for it continuously and faithfully assuages heart, mind, and body with its grandeur, beauty, and generosity.
The Oceans are by far the world’s most substantial reservoir of life. Two thirds of the planet’s ecosystem are believed to reside in the ocean (Beaudoin 1). Nevertheless, they are also not well known compared to landlocked ecosystems. The mystery of their workings further adds to their value as hot beds of life since appreciation and respect for life beauty are amplified by the mystery. Mysteries are slowly fading across the world and the Ocean stands as one the last bastions of discovery and wonderment. An astounding number of species and land formations are found within the ocean exist which scientists are continuing to discover and research.
The ocean deep is a particularly enchanting and mysterious aspect of the ocean which deserves special attention given its complexity, oddity, and mass. Beyond the continental shelf, the area around the Earth’s land, the water depths reach to 200 to as many as 11,000 meters covering as much as 87% of the ocean’s floor (Beaudoin 3). More than just a series of endless sand-bars, the ocean depths include seamounts, abyssal plains, mid-ocean ridges, trenches, cold seeps, canyons, hydrothermal vents, and deep-water coral systems (Beaudoin 3). Apparently, the depths are as rich as they are deep, however, the fullness of this riches is still lost to researchers thanks to their incredible depths and magnitude.
Indeed, the oceans are a hallmark of this world’s wonderment. Earth is regularly called the ‘Water Planet’ by scientists who recognize the uniqueness and beauty of the aquatic element within the solar system. The ocean has been steadily evolving life for 3 billion years and it has only been in the last few centuries that a single species, human beings, have actually had any sort of cumulative negative effect on the ocean’s totality (Jordan, J.). Such a development signifies a critical time of growth and challenge as the human species emerges into its power and right relationship with the resources that give them life.
Diversity is a key factor of the ocean’s beauty and relevance. Data suggests that biodiversity, besides adding to the ocean’s identity, is a critical factor in maintaining the ocean’s health. Worm et al. have found that oceans with high levels of biodiversity tend to fair much better than those with minimal forms of life. In fact, the when there is a greater degree of animal and plant life, resource collapse, recovery potential, stability, and the water quality are all improved by as much as 21% (Worm 1). Intriguingly, the ocean’s biodiversity has also begun to help human lives as well through the production of life saving medicines which fight cancer and several other ailments (Jordan, J).
Fishing is one of the largest economic contributors in the world. Tourism, fishing, and regulate CO2 and other green-house gasses, protect coastlines through Salt Marshes and mangroves which filter pollutants, and contribute to the overall unity of the planet (Earle). It is estimated that the oceans actually absorb nearly half of all the atmospheric carbons through their natural bio-cycles which helps to reduce and cool the effects of Global Warming (Jordan, J.). This means that the Ocean serves as key environmental regulator capable of moderating the extreme weather patterns that have been on the rise since Green House Gasses have increased. Within it’s salty depths, the ocean stores nearly 1,000 times more heat than the atmosphere which is then spread and redistributed throughout the planet via it’s waves and currents (Jordan, J.).
The fish caught in the oceans are some of the ocean’s most significant of contributions. Ocean fisheries each year harness nearly 80 million tones of fish within nets equally an industry value of 80 billion U.S. Dollars. From this wet harvest, 35 million jobs were added to the industry affecting the lives of over 300 million people, roughly the number of citizens in the United States of America (Beaudoin 2). Coral Reefs are also a major contributor to human society as it is believed that as many as half-a billion people reap the benefits of coral reefs in some way while nearly 850 million people live within 100 km of a coral reef (Beaudoin 5).
Recently, there has been increased appreciation in economic value for coastal habitats and the benefit they offer human activities by providing the means for agriculture, aquaculture, and other forms of development (Beaudoin 5). This advancement in respect of the economic value that oceans bestow is partially a reactionary consequence of the rise in global dangers created by the humanity with their reckless environmental abuses and neglect. Nonetheless, the Ocean is still being used indiscriminately by humanity as they engage in dramatic fishing techniques and drilling for oil even though both are proven to be unsafe and unsustainable.
The research presently available regarding climate change suggests that if left unchecked, the Ocean will be severely impacted by the human created trends in Global Warming. According to the National Academy of Sciences, (NAS), “available evidence suggests that abrupt climate changes are not only possible but likely in the future, potentially with large impacts on ecosystems and societies” (Jordan, J.). Ocean ecosystems are some of the foremost threatened planetary abodes. The World Conservation Union (IUCN), has found, with the aid of more than 600 scientists, that 25% of mammal and amphibian species, as well as 34% of fish in the ocean are threatened with extinction (Jordan, J.). It is even expected by some that a total of 30,000 plant and animal species are lost each year, a rate of species dissolution far faster than the evolutionary cycle which takes many million of years to create can keep up with.
Also quite significant to the overall health of Ocean and planet are the ice reserves which are shrinking again at a rate faster than their replenishment. The arctic ice caps are home to a vast system of species on and off the ice shelf which have been increasingly threatened due to the rapid pace of climate change (Beaudoin 6). With the increase in Global temperature there is a diminishment in the sea ice which is making for a loss in habitat for many of the oceans most beloved members including killer whales, polar bears, walruses, and many fish and birds (Beaudoin 6). Furthermore, the ice is holding carbon with their depths which may be released into the atmosphere as they melt. This problem is compounded by the fact that as the ice melts, it actually makes the ocean darker and therefore more conducive to absorbing rather than reflecting the sun’s rays thus further contributing to global warming (Beaudoin 6).
Oceans are unique environments for protection due to their value, size, and location. As borderless territories, certain challenges are uniquely had by Oceans and those who wish to protect them. While land based wild-life reserves can be managed well enough with fences, Ocean reserves do not have the degree of controllability (Beaudoin). Sustaining wildlife in the oceans then must be a worldwide effort. If one country or company is destroying the ocean in one place than it is in jeopardy everywhere. Even natural disasters such as earthquakes have the potential to devastate ocean life. To establish a safe ocean thus requires the creation of international guidelines developed by science untainted by industry with the clear aim of preserving, revitalizing, and harnessing the ocean’s resources to their best potential.
Even though the damage to the oceans are serious, the oceans are not all lost. There still is time according to many researchers who have figured that with proper respect and thoughtful choices, the Ocean’s grandeur may be preserved for generations to come. One of the most detrimental yet preventable factors in ocean pollution is the oil drilling going. Each year, large spill accidents, routine ship maintenance, drains and runoff, air pollution, natural seepage, offshore Drilling and more produced as many as 706 million gallons of oil pollution (Jordan S). Other pollutants are extremely pervasive as well with 2.8 billion gallons of industrial wastewater daily. Within this water pesticides, pharmaceutical agents, biological contaminators, plastics, and other forms of toxic pollutants such as PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, reside which affect ecosystems at all levels (Jordan S). To help reduce the damage caused by this pollutions, there are a few important steps to take care of. Never pour oil or other chemicals down drains, recycle all oil and chemicals, reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, eat foods without many pesticides, compost household wastes, manage septic systems properly and don’t discharge sewage from boats (Jordan S).
The Oceans are some of the world’s most beloved of resources. It has been threatened by many activities of men however there still is hope that the Ocean’s grandeur may be preserved. Beginning with simple steps such as reducing and managing waste properly is helpful place to begin. With due practice and diligence, the might of the ocean may live on for generations.
Beaudoin, Yannick. Why Value the Oceans? A Discussion Paper. UNEP. 2012. Web. July 6, 2016. http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/Study%20and%20Reports/Additional%20Reports/TEEB%20for%
Earle, Sylvia. What is the true value of the Ocean? Mission-Blue.org, 2013. Web. July 7, 2016. http://mission-blue.org/2013/04/what-is-the-true-value-of-the-ocean/.
Jordan, Jason. Marine Environment. See the Sea, 2012. Web. July, 6, 2016. http://see-the-sea.org/topics/environment/Env-container.htm.
Jordan, Shannon. The Threat of Pollution and what YOU can do about it. Sea-the-Sea, 2012. Web. July, 6, 2016. http://see-the-sea.org/topics/environment/Env-container.htm.
Mission Blue. What is the True Value of the Ocean. Mission Blue, 2013. Web. July, 6, 2016. http://mission-blue.org/2013/04/what-is-the-true-value-of-the-ocean/.
Worm, Boris, et al. "Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services." science 314.5800 (2006): 787-790.