Learn all about the ocean and its importance in planet Earth

Read more of this blog series:
What are the problems that exist in the ocean?
What is being done to reduce ocean problems?

The ocean is a place full of a thousand and one mysteries, incredible adventures, deep reflections and above all, great riches. It is our source of life, as it covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. Even if you live near or far from the coast, this body of water will impact your life in some way. It regulates the climate on our planet, it is home to millions of marine species and it is a source of work for us. In short, without the ocean there would be no life as we know it. 

I think that as a society we do not have any idea of how important the existence of the ocean is. This is understandable, since it is very difficult to love something that is unknown. But don’t worry, that’s why I invite you to join me to discover more, everything that makes this wonderful ecosystem a very special place. Believe me, you will end up loving it.

We will always find ourselves in the sea

E.E Cummings

Let’s start with the basics

There are several differences between the sea and the ocean. Seas are bodies close to the ocean, some become part of the ocean but with a smaller size. Plus, seas are usually partially enclosed by land. Now, the largest ocean in the world is the Pacific Ocean, with an extension of more than 155,000,000 km2, while the largest sea is the Mediterranean Sea, with only an approximate of 3,000,000 km2. Here we can observe a great difference in size. Another big difference between the two is that the sea has a greater diversity of marine species than the ocean due to its proximity to land.

Life under the sea

The marine ecosystem is incredibly huge, beautiful, and extremely interesting. This type of aquatic ecosystem is characterized mainly by the presence of salt water and is home to a great variety of marine plants and animals

The marine flora

To begin with, there are different types of plants in the ocean, from those that are submerged, to others that are floating. Each of these species constitute marine biodiversity and the most incredible thing is that there is the possibility of finding some forms of life, as well as certain vital needs in them. 

Marine algae are among the first inhabitants of the planet. Currently, there are about 30,000 species of marine algae, being one of the main sources of oxygen production, surpassing terrestrial ecosystems, but being below the phytoplankton. Unlike plants, they do not have roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or seeds, but they can produce organic matter from CO2, water, and mineral salts.

Other elements that are not only important in the ocean but also extremely beautiful are the coral reefs. These beautiful underwater mountains are characterized mainly by their bright colors. They are called “reefs” since they are very large colonies of different types of corals. Coral reefs are home to 90% of marine animal species thanks to the protection and food they provide, in addition to eliminating and recycling carbon dioxide, one of the gases responsible for the greenhouse effect. 

Marine fauna

In addition to the rich diversity of marine vegetation, the aquatic ecosystem is home to nearly 200,000 marine species, making it one of the most diverse habitats in existence. Each animal is more fantastic than the last. From giant invertebrates to small animals, including different microorganisms, all of them have lived together in harmony since ancient times.

A lovely example of animals that live under the sea are jellyfish. They have no heart, eyes, brain, or central nervous system, and they are 95% water, how cool is that? Another one is sharks, which are incredible beings and have been existing on the planet for over 400 million years. Even so, one of the most interesting ones I know is the black devil fish, a little one of 20 centimeters that can scare you in an instant. Remember the fish that attacked Dory and Nemo’s dad in the depths of the ocean? The one with the lamp on its head? Well, that’s its name and it can live up to 4,000 meters deep.

The importance of the ocean

The ocean is in all of us, and we always benefit from it directly or indirectly. It represents 97% of the water on the planet, it is our life support. Therefore, its importance for the prolongation of human life is great enough to make it a priority. It provides resources such as hydrocarbons, energy and minerals.

Thanks to the existence of phytoplankton, small organisms that look like tiny plants, using the process of photosynthesis with sunlight they can convert it into the energy they need and thus produce between 50% and 85% of the oxygen on the planet. In addition, the ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted globally, significantly reducing greenhouse gas levels. The warm ocean water with the absorbed CO2 travels through the currents to the poles and vice versa to regulate the climate at different points on the planet. 

Human dependence not only lies in being a valuable source of protein. It provides sustenance to more than 3 billion people, representing 17% of the world’s protein but also provides employment to more than 200 million people. In addition, it is a beneficial means of transportation for international trade, being responsible for more than 90% of it. 

On the other hand, it has always been one of the strongest supporters of tourism, providing socioeconomic wealth worldwide. Likewise, practicing water sports or recreational activities in the water has benefits both in physical health and emotional well-being, contributing positively to people’s mental health.

Likewise, our health is linked to that of the ocean. Many of the main components to make the medicines we consume are extracted from the marine ecosystem, helping to treat a variety of ailments from viral outbreaks to terminal illnesses. In fact, the United Nations stated in 2020, that organisms have been discovered in the deep ocean that aid in the rapid detection of COVID-19.

Connecting with you and the world

There was a time, where I was at my limit and felt saturated with everything going on around me. It took me only four days by the sea to help me balance my emotions, get to know myself calmly and organize my life priorities. I am a true believer that the sea saved my life, I have a lot of gratitude for it, in fact, I can’t explain in words the change it made in me. Therefore, I can’t help but think how we only take and benefit from it when we are not giving it the care and love it deserves.

The ocean is a place where reality and fiction are one and the same because we only know 10% of it, how many treasures have we not seen? Even so, there are those who say that it is better not to discover them, since our human nature is such that we will end up destroying them. However, what we should do is to learn more about what we have already found of that marine ecosystem that has done nothing more than help us to have a life on the planet. I don’t think I’m the only one who had this connection with the ocean, in fact, my family and close friends share with me having discovered this beautiful bond at some point in their lives, in different ways of course, but in the end, we ended up in love with the ocean.

Tell us what the ocean is for you

Read the second part of this blog series: What are the problems that exist in the ocean?