7 Facts You Must Know for World Oceans Day

On World Oceans Day, June 8th, we honour the largest ecosystem on our planet, and fight to raise awareness of the various threats that are slowly but surely harming our beautiful waters. 

Between now and June 16, I will be working with Adidas to promote their Run for the Oceans campaign, a global initiative that aims to raise $1.5 million to help protect our oceans. Run for the Oceans uses sport to seas the day and help fight the threat of marine pollution. To participate, all you need to do is log your runs on the Runtastic app. For every kilometre logged, Adidas will donate $1 to Parley Ocean Schoolto educate youth on how to protect our oceans from pollution. Last year, almost a million runners participated in countless different waves across the week – if it were a baton relay, the runners would have circled planet earth over 300 times. Oh buoy, isn’t that cray-sea!? It just proves the power of passion and collaboration. I’m shore you can sea this is a worthy cause. So pull on your joggers, make sure they’re tide tight and give us a wave as you run by!

In celebration of World Oceans Day, and to help you brush up on your knowledge, here are some key facts about the deep blue.

#1:Oceans cover 70% of the planet’s surface
Despite this, there is still so much we have to learn about this amazing ecosystem. The ocean contains about 200,000 species that have been catalogued, but the actual number may be well into the millions. More than 80% of the seas are yet to be explored, which gives you some indication of just how little we know. We do know some things though! The ocean holds 97% of the Earth’s water, and represents 99% of the living space on the planet. 

#2: Our oceans drive the global systems that make the planet habitable for humans
Our rainwater, drinking water, climate, much of our food and even our oxygen is generated and controlled by the ocean. In fact, the ocean is responsible for about 70% of the oxygen we breathe. This means that 2 out of every 3 breaths that we take is generated by the ocean. Some of this oxygen is produced by seaweeds and grasses, but a majority of it is generated by phytoplankton, microscopic single celled organisms that are able to photosynthesise. During photosynthesis, phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from the sea water and release oxygen. Clever little things, aren’t they. 

#3: Life exists, even in the darkest of places 
For a long time, the deepest depths of the ocean were thought to be devoid of life, since light cannot penetrate deeper than 1,000 metres. But then scientists made a discovery - hydrothermal vents. These funnel-like structures allow worms, mussels and other organisms to survive via chemosynthesis (instead of photosynthesis), where microbes convert chemicals released by the vents into energy! Strange looking fish with sensitive eyes and translucent skin lurk in these dark waters, often surviving only by eating pieces of organic waste and flesh that filter down from above.


#4: The CO2 problem is worse than it appears
Oceans absorb about 30% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, doing a great job of soaking up excess heat from the atmosphere, and providing a buffer for the impacts of global warming. The top few metres of the ocean stores as much heat as Earth's entire atmosphere. So, as the planet warms, it's the ocean that gets most of the extra energy. Whilst this may seem beneficial in the short term, we often fail to recognise that if the ocean gets too warm then the plants and animals that live in it must adapt, or die. However, the ocean is warming at an unsustainable rate - at a pace too fast to allow ocean life to adjust. And so, we are watching them struggle and die. 

#5: Plastic is the most common element in the ocean today
13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean every year, which, among other damage, kills 1 million seabirds, 300,000 dolphins and 100,000 marine animals annually. Plastic is particularly harmful as it doesn’t break down easily and is often mistaken by sea life as food. When plastic is consumed by animals, it either makes its way quickly up the food chain, or fills the animals’ stomachs and starves them to death. It’s shocking to know that there is enough plastic in the ocean to circle the Earth 400 times. 

#6: Ocean pollution is killing humans too
It’s not just sea life that is getting harmed by this pollution. Human health is taking a beating too. One way this can happen is through small animals at the bottom of the food chain absorbing toxic chemicals as part of their food. These small animals are then eaten by larger animals that again increases the concentration of chemicals. Animals at the top of the food chain have contamination levels millions times higher than the water they live in. People get contaminated easily by eating contaminated seafood that can cause a range of dangerous health problems, from diseases such as cancer to long term damage to the immune system. 

#7: Without the ocean, we cannot survive
Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. If you look at this in conjunction with the fact that we depend on the oxygen, water and life provided by the ocean, it can be shocking to realise that the human race would be extinct without it. Without the ocean, we cannot exist. 

The Oceans are dying. Let’s create change together.


Dara HayesComment