Oceans are the biggest ecosystem of the world, but they’re facing a major crisis because of human activities. Our actions are progressively making the world’s oceans sick; and a sick ocean is a short step away from endangering humanity and life on Earth. In exploring the top 5 reasons to protect our oceans, we aim to create awareness about some of the little-known unique contributions of the world’s oceans to our lives on this planet.
Human activities are polluting the water with debris and chemicals, resulting in:
- Ocean plastic pollution
- Ocean acidification
- Rising water temperatures
- Oil spills, and much more.
These and other types of contamination to the ocean not only alter the marine ecosystem, but also destroys it, affecting all the animals and plants who depend on it. Scientists are reporting of species migration and extinction at a faster rate than has ever been seen before on Earth.
Why Should We Care About Protecting the Oceans?
Why should you care if the oceans are unhealthy? Well, simply because they are vitally important to life on Earth. Let me share just 5 reasons why oceans are important and why we should all work to protect them.
1. The ocean produces 50% of the oxygen we breathe.
Remember your Biology lesson on plants and photosynthesis? Well, it’s the same concept really. Plants in the ocean include algae, phytoplankton, and seaweeds (kelp).
Like other plants on land, ocean flora produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, and this oxygen is released from the ocean into the atmosphere, creating the air we breathe. So we should be very concerned by any activity that’s going to be detrimental to the health and environment of plants in the sea.
2. Oceans are the source of at least 60% of the protein people eat in the whole world.
Low in calories and high in nutritional benefits, the health benefits of fish and seafood are well documented. They are a valuable source of easily digestible proteins, as well as the following nutrients:
- Minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium and even copper
- Vitamins D and B12
Because fish and seafood are highly nutritious, they are in demand all over the world, and consumed by young and old alike. It’s not just the communities living near oceans who eat fish and seafood; the demand for fish, fish products and seafood transverses communities from all across the world.
So the next time you tuck into a piece of salmon, cod or prawns, spare a thought for their source. We are right at the top of the marine food-chain; a contaminated or poisoned ocean directly results in a contaminated or depleted food source for us too.
3. Our Oceans Are an Important Means of Transport
With over 70% of the Earth’s surface covered by water, the world’s oceans facilitate over 60% of transport across the world, for both passenger traffic and cargo.
In fact, an estimated 90% of the world’s freight is transported by sea. Ships are able to transport huge amounts of materials and bulky cargo, much more than be transported by plane or by road.
4. The Ocean is a Source of Beauty, Relaxation and Recreation for people.
Each year, millions of people around the world spend thousands of dollars on holidays, sports and other recreational activities at different ocean spots. Think about it:
- Beach holidays
- Surfing and kite surfing (my personal favorite!)
- Good old swimming
- Boat rides and boat races
Even the world famous Ironman triathlon has a swimming stage where the competitors are required to complete a 2.4 mile (3.86 km) swim in the ocean.
If you’ve ever spent some time near the ocean, then you understand how soothing the sound of the waves are. At night, they literally lull you to sleep. There’s just so much beauty and relaxation in watching the sun rise or set on the ocean’s horizon, as you sip on some fresh juice or a cocktail.
With all the pressure and stress in everyday life, we should do everything possible to protect our happiness, and protect those places that help us unwind as we create happy memories. This alone is reason enough to protect our oceans.
5. Medical Benefits:
Majority of drugs used in medical treatment come from nature.
The ocean is an important source of ingredients for medicines we use in treatment of different ailments, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and arthritis.
Here’s one interesting example I came across while doing this research. There’s a snail known as the Sea Cone Snail, that produces a poisonous chemical called conotoxin which it uses in self-defense against fish and other marine predators.
These conotoxins are so toxic that they can kill a man in minutes. Conotoxins have been used in making potent painkiller medication, which is used in the relief of chronic pain in conditions such as cancer.
If you are interested in reading more about this, and to see why scientists are turning to the sea in the search for new drugs, take a look at this article.
Want to know more? Take a look at these related posts, as we explore how to protect our oceans.
- Ocean Pollution & Acidification: 10 Ways you can Help
- Reflections on Sustainable Tourism
- 10 Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint
- Sustainable Fashion: The Whys & Hows
Treasure Troves in the Ocean
The ocean really is a Treasure Trove, filled with all sorts of benefits for this planet. Many of these treasures are still hidden in its depths, waiting to be discovered. I finish with this thought by Arthur C. Clarke:
“How inappropriate to call this planet ‘Earth’, when it is quite clearly ‘Ocean’.”
We would love to hear from you. Share with us your thoughts on this.
Let’s Do this Together!