What Is the Ocean?

Ocean is a vast, salty body of water that covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water. Oceans are crucial to the planet’s climate, absorbing and distributing heat from the sun around the globe and regulating temperature. They also provide vital habitats for many species of animals and plants.

The ocean is a huge reservoir of life and an integral part of our global ecosystem. Marine life ranges from the largest animal on the planet – the blue whale – to microscopic organisms that are essential for human and plant health. Oceans provide shelter and food for hundreds of millions of marine mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects and plants. They also regulate climate, storing heat and distributing it around the world, and they play an important role in maintaining Earth’s water balance.

Our oceans are home to diverse ecosystems that have evolved over millions of years. Their unique chemistry makes them ideal environments for various forms of life to thrive in, and they are a source of inspiration for scientists and engineers alike.

While the terms sea and ocean are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. A sea is a more regional, localized body of salt water that is interconnected with the ocean, while an ocean is a globally-interconnected system of water. Oceans are also often distinguished from other large bodies of water such as lakes and rivers by the fact that they are a continuous mass of salt water rather than freshwater.

Scientists believe that oceans form due to a process known as seafloor spreading. The Earth’s outer layer, the lithosphere, is divided into several large plates that float on a hot, semi-liquid layer below called the mantle. These plates interact and occasionally separate from each other, creating gaps that are filled with magma from the Earth’s mantle. This process occurs mainly along mid-ocean ridges and creates new seafloor over time, giving rise to our oceans.

Sea water is also rich in minerals and salts, including calcium, potassium and magnesium. These minerals support healthy bones, nerves and heart function and enhance skin elasticity and appearance. They are antiviral, antibacterial and help with wound healing. In addition, they are a natural moisturizer and help to maintain the pH of the skin which, when balanced, promotes calcium absorption, immunity and cell growth.

Living close to the ocean encourages daily physical activity – walks on the beach, swimming, surfing and beach volleyball are all great for the body and soul. People who live close to the coast are also more likely to get enough vitamin D, which helps to fight obesity, maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Studies have also linked the benefits of spending time in nature to reduced stress levels and boosted well-being.

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