In this essay I am going to write about the ocean and all the amazing things about the ocean that some people might not know. Growing up I was never interested in the ocean or things like that but as I am starting to grow the world and the ocean are starting to become much more fascinating to me. There are many amazing things about the ocean and what lives in it some things that are amazing to me are that Earth is the only known planet or moon to have large bodies of liquid water on its surface. Our planet lies in the zone that’s not too hot, not too cold and with enough atmospheric pressure to prevent liquid surface water from evaporating into space. Although scientists and explorers don’t know of any other planets or moons with liquid water oceans, it’s likely that they do exist and they just haven’t found them. In our own solar system, there is growing evidence that the planet Mars may have liquid water not on the surface but underground. There is also strong evidence that liquid oceans may be hidden beneath the thick icy surfaces of three of Jupiter’s moons and two of Saturn’s moons.
The ocean is so fascinating because it harbors the biggest animals down to the mircospecies and still to this day no one knows exactly how many types or how many animals and species live in the ocean. The ocean is a constant moving system that takes 1000 years to travel all the way around the whole globe. The thing that keeps it moving in a constant motion is temperature and salinity this is known as the global ocean conveyor belt or thermohaline current, this deep ocean current gets one of its “starts” in the polar region near Norway. Another amazing thing about the big blue sea is that half of all the oxygen we breathe is produced in the ocean some of this oxygen is produced by sea weeds and sea grasses, but the vast majority of the oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, microscopic single celled organisms that have the ability to photosynthesize. These tiny creatures live in the surface layer of the ocean lakes and rivers and form the very base of the aquatic food chain. Even though the ocean may seem like a gigantic mass of water it is relatively small compared to the size of the earth. About 71 per
cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but the average depth of the oceans is only about 4.2 kilometers.
The deepest point is in the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean, around 11 kilometers below sea level. To get some idea of how the average depth of the oceans compares to the scale of the Earth, imagine if the world’s tallest building, Burj Dubai, was the distance from the center of the Earth to the surface. The average depth of the oceans would be the equivalent of just 10 centimeters at the very top. Mount Everest would be another 21 centimeters above that. All of the water on Earth would fit into a sphere about 1,385 kilometers in diameter, according to the US Geological Survey. The Earth’s diameter is roughly nine times larger. Some more interesting and fascinating things about the ocean are, maybe the reason we can’t breathe under water is that the oceans holds around 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere. Cold water can dissolve much more CO2 than warm water, so the cold Polar Regions are net absorbers of CO2, but as the cold water finds its way to warmer tropical areas, the oceans release CO2 back into the atmosphere.
The equatorial Pacific is thought to be the biggest single natural source of CO2 in the atmosphere. Most of this carbon is exchanged with the atmosphere on a timescale of several hundred years. Also too my surprise I have learned that the Atlantic Ocean is getting bigger while the Pacific Ocean is getting smaller. These days, the Atlantic Ocean is growing at a rate of five centimeters per year, as new sea floor is created by volcanic activity along its mid-ocean ridge. On the other hand, the much older Pacific Ocean is currently estimated to be shrinking by two to three centimeters each year, and this all comes down to plate tectonics because the Pacific Ocean has subduction zones on three sides where the Pacific plate submerges beneath other plates. The Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” broadly maps the areas where this subduction occurs and accounts for around 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes. Another fact about our ocean is that it makes for a great garbage disposal which is why its name is the great garbage patch which is more like plastic soup then a garbage patch.
Plastic trash takes a very long time to degrade in the oceans. The actions of sunlight and wave motion tend to break plastic objects into smaller and smaller pieces until they eventually become smaller than a grain of sand. That’s why there is no obvious floating island of plastic debris, but rather a fine soup of plastic particles floating in the water column. These fine particles are now thought to act like sponges, concentrating pollutants such as PCBs, DDT and PAHs. When the particles are ingested by filter feeding sea creatures, they enter the food chain and ultimately into fish destined for human consumption. They also harbor unique colonies of microbes, but it is too early to say what impact this emerging ‘plastisphere’ will have on marine ecological environments.
Plastics only came into widespread use after 1945, but can already be found in every part of the marine environment from the surface to the seafloor. The existence of the “The Great Pacific Garbage patch” in the North Pacific Ocean was confirmed in 1997. It lies at the center of a large rotating ocean current or gyre. Since then, a soup of plastic pollution has been found at the center of all the world’s major gyres in the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean.