About 70 percent of the Earth is actually ocean, and 94 percent of life on Earth is aquatic. In fact, life on earth began in the ocean 3.1 billion to 3.4 billion years ago. Land dwellers didn’t show up until much later(approximately 400 million years ago). Even though we’re newbies, wehave a tendency to think the planet is all about us humans and what happens on land above the sea.
To mark World Oceans Day, here are 17 intriguing facts about the oceans that might make you think twice about the watery world we live on and how we should treat it.
1. Fifty percent of the United States (in terms of our complete legal jurisdiction, which includes ocean territory) lies below the ocean, reports MNN.com.
2. We probably know more about the moon than we do our oceans; we have better maps of Mars than we have of the ocean floor. In fact, weve only exploredless than5percent of the Earths oceans, even though we depend on them for everything from food to transportation to recreation.
3. Forget the Smithsonian, the Louvre or the Parthenon. There are more artifacts and remnants of history in the ocean than in all of the worlds museums combined, thanks to shipwrecks, tsunamis, tidal waves, floods, wars and the general tendency of people to treat the ocean as a big dumping ground.
4. An underwater mountain chain running through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean from the Arctic Circle all the way down into the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific is the longest mountain range in the world. It coversmore than 35,000 miles, making it four times longer than the Andes, Rockies and Himalayas combined. Ithas peaks higher than those in the Alps.
5. The Pacific Ocean isthe world’s largest water body. It occupies a third of the Earth’s surface and contains about 25,000 islands, which is more than the total number in the rest of the world’s oceans combined. Most of those islandsare found south of the equator.
6. The oceans make up 97 percent of the Earth’s water.Of what remains, less than 1 percent is the fresh water we use for drinking. 2-3 percent of the remaining water on earth is contained in glaciers and ice caps, though due to global warming, this amount is decreasingas the ice caps melt.
7. The sea level is rising seriously due to climate change. 10,000 years ago the ocean level was about 110 m lower than it is now. If all the world’s ice melted, the oceans would rise 66 m. Sea levels will continue rising even if the climate stabilizes because the ocean is too vast to react quickly to change.
8. Ninety percent of all volcanic activity occurs in the oceans, reports MarineBio.org. Undersea earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides can cause tsunamis, powerful seismic sea waves that can destroy entire cities and kill hundreds of thousands of people, as we saw when an earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sumatra in 2004, letting loose a tsunami that eventually killed 230,000 people.
9. Sound travels nearly five times faster through water than it does through air.
10.Air pollution is to blamefor 33 percent of the toxic contaminants that end up in oceans and coastal waters. About 44 percent of the toxic contaminants come from runoff via rivers and streams, especially runoff contaminated with agricultural chemicals.
11. Each year, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans as the weight of fish caught. Much of that is plastic which will never decompose but instead may get eaten by fish and end up being eaten by people, as well.
12. Nearly one-third of the world’s oil comes from offshore fields in our oceans, especially those in the Arabian Gulf, the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
13. Oil is a major source of ocean pollution. But while some of that comes from oil spills, most of it comes from leaking automobiles and “non-point sources” like oil that is poured down street drains and otherwise improperly disposed. According to MarineBio.org, more oil reaches the oceans each year as a result of leaking automobiles and other non-point sources than the oil spilled in Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez or even in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
14. The Great Barrier Reef, which coversan area largerthan Britain, is the largest living structure on Earth and can be seen from space. Its reefs are made up of 400 species of coral, supporting over 2,000 different fish, 4,000 species of mollusc and countless other invertebrates. The “reef” is actually an expanse of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and 1,000 islands. Because the physiology of coralis so similar to human bone, coral has been used to replace bone grafts, helping human bone to heal more quickly.
15. People eat more fish than any other protein source. Unfortunately,most of the world’s major fisheries are being fished at levels above their maximum sustainable yield; some regions are severely overfished.
16. More than90 percent of the trade between countriesis carried by ships traveling back and forth across the oceans. About half the communications between nations from one side of the world to another relies on cables that have been laid across the ocean floor.
17. Blue whales are the largest creatures on the planet, ever. They’re bigger than the largest dinosaurs ever were.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
17 Random But Fascinating Facts About Our Oceans