The Importance of the Ocean

Ocean is a vast body of salt water that covers most of Earth’s surface and contains a rich diversity of living creatures. Oceans are key to our planet’s climate as they absorb and store massive amounts of heat from the Sun, distribute it around the globe and regulate temperature. They are also vital for our health as they produce 50 to 80% of the oxygen we breathe through photosynthesis by tiny marine plants known as phytoplankton.

Our oceans are the source of many of our basic needs, providing us with nutrition, medicines, minerals and renewable energy resources. They also provide billions of dollars in economic value by serving as a global trade hub and transport route, providing jobs in fishing, seafood, leisure and science.

Approximately 90% of the world’s trading is done by sea. This is because the Ocean is an original super-highway that connects our economies together and facilitates the movement of people, goods and services around the world. Our oceans are a valuable natural resource, but they are increasingly affected by human activities, such as marine pollution (including microplastics), overfishing and ocean acidification.

The ocean is a huge carbon sink, absorbing large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and helping to stabilize Earth’s climate. However, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising because of human activities. This is causing the oceans to become more acidic, which has serious consequences for marine life and human health.

In addition to being a source of food and medicines, the ocean provides billions of dollars in economic value by serving up recreational activities like swimming, snorkelling, surfing, diving and yachting. It also supports millions of jobs in the fisheries, shipping and tourism industries and is a key resource for research and exploration.

Oceans are a complex system of different habitats that host diverse populations of species. These include coral reefs, kelp forests, rocky pools and sandy beaches, and deep-sea trenches. Each habitat has its own unique conditions that affect the species that live there.

While rainforests are often referred to as the “lungs of the planet,” our oceans are much more appropriately called the lungs of the Earth. Through the photosynthesis process, phytoplankton and other marine plants produce about half of the oxygen we breathe. They also serve as a major food source for 3 billion people globally, with fish and sea plants contributing to the diets of many developing countries. Our oceans are an invaluable source of energy, too, generating between 5 and 20% of our electricity through offshore wind and solar power. They are also a key source of raw materials used in everyday products, including building materials, pharmaceuticals and fuel.

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