Oceans cover over 70 percent of the planet’s surface, and account for 97% of its water supply.
The oceans are a vital lifeline to billions of people, as they regulate rainfall and droughts, absorb CO2 and hold water supplies. They also support important ecosystems and provide a rich source of food and marine resources.
There are many ways to help protect our seas. Whether you donate to an ocean-related initiative or you simply take small steps in your daily routine, every action can make a difference.
Learn About Our Oceans
The World Ocean is a vast body of salt water covering 70% of Earth’s surface and containing 97% of our entire water supply. It is divided into several large bodies of water, including the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
These bodies of water contain a high concentration of salt, which makes them essential to the survival of some marine animals. The oceans are a major habitat for many species, including fish and whales.
Despite their importance to humankind, the oceans are threatened by many things—including climate change, pollution and a lack of understanding about sustainable ocean stewardship techniques. These threats limit our ocean’s ability to provide us with essential services, from food and livelihoods to recreation.
The oceans’ heat capacity stabilizes our climate by moving huge amounts of energy from the tropics to the poles, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. Like a giant flywheel, this heat capacity helps to keep the planet stable and temperate.
Currents are streams of water that move across the ocean and are influenced by the ocean’s salinity, temperature and geographic features such as coastlines and the location of continents. These features, as well as Earth’s rotation and wind, influence the paths of currents that flow near the surface and deeper waters.
These currents move heat, nutrients and oxygen throughout the ocean and can affect our marine ecosystems and global climate by transporting these essential elements to regions where they are most needed. They are a vital part of what is known as the thermohaline conveyor belt.
Some of these currents, such as the Gulf Stream, are long-term features that travel across the ocean. Other currents are smaller and more episodic and circulate for short periods.
Depending on where they travel, these currents can transport huge volumes of heat, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the ocean. They can also carry rich supplies of other essential elements, such as nitrogen, that all organisms need to survive.
Aside from these specialized currents, the ocean also contains a variety of waves that travel through it. These waves are created by the movement of air above and below the surface, which causes water to shift.
In addition, these waves are caused by the physical interactions between water molecules, and by the movement of tiny particles in the water called turbidity. The turbidity of the water affects how much water can pass through the wave and the amount of time it takes to traverse it.