The Ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and is home to countless fish, marine mammals, plants, and birds. It also stores energy (heat) and absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it warms up due to climate change.
The ocean is an essential part of our planet’s ecosystems and provides many valuable services to humans, including food, minerals, oil, natural gas, and a source of oxygen from photosynthesis by phytoplankton and algae. However, human activity has negative impacts on ocean life and habitats through marine pollution (marine debris and microplastics), overfishing, and ocean acidification.
Scientists have identified more than 230,000 species that live in the ocean, though it is unknown how many more are out there waiting to be discovered. While some oceanographers believe the number of species has decreased, there may still be many positive surprises to come.
There is a variety of marine animals, from tiny microscopic organisms to large whales and sharks, as well as a wide array of plants and abiotic processes. All of them are interconnected.
Most people can recall spending time in the ocean, either on a boat or at the beach. It is often a relaxing experience, and it can be beneficial for both body and mind. Studies show that the salt, iodine, and magnesium present in seawater help to reduce stress, improve asthma symptoms, promote respiratory health, and stimulate the immune system.
It is also good for wound healing as the salt and iodine present in it can help reduce infection. It can be used to treat chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and is antiviral and antibacterial.
The sea is also high in calcium, potassium and magnesium, which are all nutrients necessary for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. It is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease and other related conditions.
Sea water is also rich in antioxidants, which can help fight against cell-damaging free radicals and reduce inflammation. It is also high in sodium, which helps keep your body hydrated and keeps your blood pressure under control.
Phytoplankton, algae and other microorganisms are responsible for most of the oxygen in the ocean. This oxygen, in turn, helps to regulate climate.
Oceanographers divide the ocean into different vertical and horizontal zones based on physical and biological conditions. These zones include the pelagic zone, which consists of the water column from surface to ocean floor throughout the open ocean, and further regions categorized by light abundance and depth.
These zones are further subdivided into neritic and oceanic zones, which are defined by distance from land. The neritic zone encompasses coastal waters directly above the continental shelf, while the oceanic zone extends outward to the entire open ocean.
The photic zone is the most biodiverse of all ocean regions, because it contains waters from the top of the ocean to a depth of 1% of the surface light (about 200 m in the open ocean). This zone is where photosynthetic organisms such as phytoplankton and microscopic algae, which use sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients to create organic matter, live.