• Jessica Evans

5 things you didn’t know about the sea

There are a lot of cool things about the sea. It covers more of the earth than land does. It’s the subject of many a myth or fairy-tale, from Atlantis, to the Little Mermaid. As much fun as it is to be tossed around by the waves every time we visit the beach, there’s a whole lot we don’t really appreciate about the sea. So here’s a list of things to remember next time you're cursing because your eyes are burning with sea salt.

1. It’s vital for climate control

The ocean actually absorbs a lot of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that humans emit. In fact, the surface of the sea absorbs up to 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere! You can read more about the ocean’s role in carbon cycling here.

Clown fish, like other reef fish, face a huge problem with climate change and ocean acidification, both of which are linked to carbon cycling. Both pose a threat to their habitat.

2. It’s worth A LOT

Because the sea has so much to offer in terms of tourism, entertainment, and, of course, fishing, it all adds up to $22 trillion annually! That’s a dollar a second for 697 616 years!

72 percent of the ocean economy's total employment comes from tourism and recreation.

3. It gets bigger as it gets hotter

All water experiences what is called thermal expansion. That’s just a fancy way to say it gets bigger as it gets hotter. You’ll find that the sea level at the equator is up to 30 cm taller than at the poles! Thermal expansion happens because, as water heats up, its molecules get more energy. This makes them move around a lot more, and results in there being more space between molecules than at cooler temperatures.

The sea level is higher in warmer parts of the ocean, like the equator.

4. It’s a constant cycle

The ocean is a complex network of swirling bodies of water. From oceanic gyres (of which there are five significant ones) to eddies, the sea is one big net of moving water. Every drop of water in the ocean moves from across the world through gyres, currents and eddies. It’s estimated that it takes 1000 years for the cycle to complete itself. This movement and cycling of water is responsible for distributing heat, nutrients, and compounds (like CO2, oxygen and nitrogen) across the world.

5. You have a significant impact on it

Everything you do, from the sunblock you wear to the clothes you buy, to what you eat, impacts the ocean in some way. Collectively, everything we do can change the ocean, and ultimately the world, in a big way. So be a good citizen of the world and research how what you do might affect the sea – you might be surprised by how easily a few little adjustments can change everything.

Plastic pollution is just one way your everyday activities are affecting the ocean.

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©2018 by Bite-sized Sci | Jessica Evans