Lounging on the beach listening to waves crash on the shore or sailing between islands is the stuff of dream vacations – but have you ever wondered, why is the ocean important?
The Crucial Role of the Ocean
More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by ocean so it should be no surprise that it plays an indispensable role in sustaining life on this planet.
The ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth and is essential for regulating the climate, having far-reaching impacts across the globe, including far away from coastal areas. The ocean meets our basic survival needs, from providing oxygen and food to offering economic opportunities.
Seven Reasons to Protect the Ocean
There are countless reasons to protect the ocean, but most of them can be categorized under one of the following seven points.
1 - The Ocean is Important for Biodiversity Conservation
Unlike what you might think from a glimpse of the surface, the ocean is teeming with life, from apex predators to tiny plankton and everything in between.
The ocean is estimated to contain up to 10 million distinct marine species, many of which have not yet been discovered.
When we protect the ocean, we help preserve the incredible biodiversity that exists under and around the water.
As with any ecosystem, life in the ocean exists in a delicate balance in which each species is interdependent on others for survival. When human interference upsets this balance, it can have devastating consequences.
Overfishing, oil spills, untargeted animals getting entangled in fishing nets and interference in whale navigation from underwater noise created by the shipping industry are just a few examples of how human activity harms biodiversity.
Read more: How Do Microplastics Form?
2 - The Ocean Plays a Crucial Role in Climate Regulation
The vast expanses of water that cover our planet are essential for regulating the climate. The oceans absorb radiation from the sun and release heat that powers atmospheric circulation, providing the warm currents and weather patterns that we enjoy.
Ocean currents counteract the uneven distribution of solar radiation on the Earth by pushing warm water and precipitation from the equator toward the poles and cold water from the poles toward the tropics.
The oceans also absorb and store billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
3 - The Ocean is a Source of Oxygen Production
The ocean is important because it generates at least half of all the oxygen we require on the planet, thanks to microscopic photosynthetic plankton that live on the surface of the water.
By protecting the ocean from pollution, we ensure the survival of these essential organisms that ensure we have enough air to breathe.
4 - The Ocean Matters for Food Security
Another reason why the ocean is important is that it’s an important food and nutrition source for people and animals around the globe. Seafood provides an important source of protein and essential fatty acids in coastal areas where there may not be alternative protein sources available.
It also provides ingredients that are used in products including peanut butter and salad dressing. By protecting the ocean, we also safeguard an important source of food for the long term.
5 - The Ocean Has Economic Importance
Several industries rely on the ocean, providing livelihood opportunities to millions of people.
The fishing industry, tourism and international shipping are three examples of massive industries that are reliant on the ocean to exist. We should protect the ocean to sustain a critical tool for economic development around the globe.
6 - The Ocean Provides Important Medicinal Resources
If all the other reasons weren’t enough, it’s important to protect the ocean because it may hold medicinal resources that can advance treatments for medical conditions like cancer and heart disease.
For instance, researchers have found that fish skin can support and improve wound healing. Scientists have extracted more than 20,000 biochemical substances from creatures in the ocean for research into therapeutic properties.
7 - The Ocean is an Important Source of Recreation and Well-Being
The ocean is magical, beautiful and relaxing all at once. It’s not only crucial for human survival as per the reasons above, but also an important source of fun and relaxation.
Whether you prefer to be inside the water or admire it from the shore, the ocean provides endless recreational opportunities. Diving, sailing, swimming, seaside dining and building sand castles are just a few ways we enjoy the ocean.
Final Thoughts on Why the Ocean Is Important
Younger generations will have to face the environmental consequences of the decisions made by their predecessors.
Given the undeniable importance of the ocean for regulating the climate and providing oxygen, it is essential to protect this ecosystem for our children and grandchildren to ensure they can enjoy happy, healthy lives.
This is especially important given rising global temperatures and rapid deforestation.