June 8 is World Oceans Day. What Do You Know About the Oceans?

Every year on June 8 people around the world celebrate the world’s oceans and how we are all connected by them. You probably know that life on earth depends on the oceans in many ways. Here are some interesting facts that maybe you didn’t know.

When did World Oceans Day start?

World Oceans Day was first proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 2008 officially recognizing June 8th as World Oceans Day each year.

Participation in World Oceans Day celebrations has been growing every year. Today, the most popular city represented on the World Oceans Day facebook page is Sydney, Australia.

The theme for 2013 and 2014 is Together we have the power to protect the ocean.

Facts about the world’s oceans

Eighty percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from our oceans.

Water travels from our oceans to the atmosphere, to land, to rivers and back to our oceans again in an endless cycle.

image courtesy of Jan www.bestof.cz/

image courtesy of Jan http://www.bestof.cz

Ocean waters cover about 71% of the earth’s surface, and contain 350 million cubic miles of seawater.

photo Fir0002/Flagstaffotos courtesy of www.flagstaffotos.com.au

photo Fir0002/Flagstaffotos courtesy of www.flagstaffotos.com.au

The deepest point in the ocean is the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, measured at about 6.8 miles (10.9 km). Some think that this is one of the hunting grounds of the giant squid.

When the moon came into being there were no oceans, much of the water of the planet being contained in heavy layers of cloud. The surface of the earth was so hot that any moisture falling onto its surface would be turned to steam.

So what’s in the ocean anyway?

There is enough salt in the world’s oceans to cover all the continents with a layer 500 feet thick.

photo courtesy of Alexis Blaine

Small square diatoms and larger copepod
photo courtesy of Alexis Blaine

Diatoms, a form of plant plankton, give the ocean its greenish hue.

Ocean water is bluest where there is the least amount of sea life.

It takes 10,000 pounds of microscopic plankton to make 1,000 pounds of copepods, which grows 100 pounds of smelt, which in turn produces 10 pounds of mackerel, which makes just 1 pound of tuna. That tuna will add a mere 0.1 pounds to the weight of a human who eats it.

The tiny plankton are also the food of the giant baleen whales like the right whale, finback whale, and bowhead whale. These whales sieve mouthfuls of seawater to strain out the plankton and eat it.

The whale shark, another plankton eater, is the largest fish in the sea, and grows up to forty feet in length.

Reconstruction of a megalodon jaw. photo in the public domain http://geology.cwru.edu/~huwig/catalog/cenozoic.html

Reconstruction of a megalodon jaw.
photo in the public domain
http://geology.cwru.edu/~huwig/catalog/cenozoic.html

The blue whale, which also feeds on plankton, is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth or in the sea. It grows to over 110 feet and weighs up to 200 tons, more than fifty elephants and twice as much as the largest recorded dinosaur, even the prehistoric megalodon. Look here to see a blue whale that flies!

Koi (on the left) Photo by Dominic Morel

Koi (on the left)
Photo by Dominic Morel

The longest living water creature was found in a sample of bacteria taken from the waters of Windermere Lake in England: its age was estimated at 1,500 years. But for non-bacteria species, a specimen of the more familiar koi fish, a kind of carp, is the oldest, at 228 years old.

The narwhal, a whale found in the Arctic, is known as the “unicorn of the sea.” It can grow up to 12 feet long, and has a tusk of up to 8 feet that grows outward in a counterclockwise spiral.

Photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian

Photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian

Living corals are animals related to the sea anemones, and consist of a polyp which has a mouth surrounded by tentacles at its free end. Their stony, dead skeletons form coral reefs, the structure that most people are familiar with.

wreck on a reef

photo courtesy of Odan Jaeger

According to a United Nations report, there are over 3 million shipwrecks on the ocean floor.

That’s about the size of it

Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world at 56,453 miles, followed by Indonesia with 33,978 miles.

The largest ocean in size is the Pacific, at about 64 million square miles, followed by the Atlantic at almost 32 million. The Atlantic is becoming one inch wider every year, and the Pacific one inch narrower, resulting from the continental drift.

If all the ice in the world were to melt, the ocean would rise approximately 180 feet, enough in New York City for the first twenty stories of the Empire State Building to be underwater.

There are not seven seas around the world, but more like seventy-seven, based on standard maps, not including the Dead Sea or the Coral Sea which are not technically seas.

Water creatures count!

Here is what some water creatures are called when they are in groups:

  • photo courtesy of Adam H. www.alifmedia.com

    photo courtesy of Adam H.
    www.alifmedia.com

    A bed of clams or oysters

  • A herd or pod of seals
  • A knot of toads
  • A siege of herring
  • A smack of jellyfish
  • A bale of turtles

More amazing facts

photo courtesy of Gregory Runyan

photo courtesy of Gregory Runyan

A blue-gray porpoise nicknamed “Pelorus Jack” led ships through the dangerous French Pass from Pelorus Sound to Tasman Bay in New Zealand from 1871 to 1912. He met and guided every ship without the loss of a single one. In 1903 a drunk aboard a ship named Penguin shot Pelorus Jack with a rifle. Fortunately, the porpoise recovered, but would never guide Penguin again. That ship was wrecked in French Pass in 1909 with the loss of many lives.

One of the best known sea gods of classical myth is the king of the ocean, known to the Romans as Neptune, and to the Greeks as Poseidon. Neptune is often pictured as a stately bearded man carrying a trident and riding on the back of a dolphin. It is customary for a sailor crossing the equator on board a ship for the first time to be initiated in a “crossing ceremony” involving King Neptune.

The first person to sail around the world alone was a Nova Scotian, Captain Joshua Slocum, in the thirty-nine-foot converted oyster boat Spray, between 1895 and 1898.

The End photo courtesy of Kym Parry

The End
photo courtesy of Kym Parry

Featured image courtesy of Flavio Takemoto.
References:
Ocean Almanac, Robert Hendrickson, Doubleday & Company, 1984
World Oceans Day website  http://worldoceansday.org/
 Attila Nagy, image curator at Gizmodo.com
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