Oceans: The Planet’s Blue Gold
As the source of all life on earth, oceans constitute absolutely amazing living environments. With 1.3 billion Km3 of salt water, they cover almost two thirds of the globe. Oceans are home to 230,000 animal and vegetable species, among which we can count 18,200 fish and 140 marine mammals; these numbers only represent species presently identified, since we believe there are still four times more that have not yet been discovered! This also means that 80% of our global biodiversity can be found here!
Humans depend on oceans on several levels:
- First, they feed over 3.5 billion people on Earth.
- Also, thanks to photosynthesis activities produced by microscopic algae (phytoplankton) that thrive in ocean waters, these sea weeds generate more than half the oxygen necessary for the air we breathe; This is more than the oxygen produced by all of the Earth’s forests put together!
- Oceans are responsible for our world thermal regulation. Their waters capture the heat emitted by the sun and redistribute it in our temperate zones, especially by means of ocean currents.
However, the quality of our oceans is degrading rapidly and must deal with many pressures:
- Ocean acidification is the phenomenon by which atmospheric dissolution of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water has reached such a high level that it has been affecting, among others, the shells of numerous crustaceans as well as the world’s coral reefs.
- Overfishing along several coastlines threatens entire big fish populations such as tuna and swordfish.
- This is added to the thousands of kilometres of fish lines and nets dropped in sea waters accidentally hurting sharks, turtles and other marine mammals.
Finally, we find more than 159 million tons of plastic of all kinds in our oceans every year. Oceans are fundamental to life itself on Earth. Through small, simple acts, we can contribute to their protection… and, by the same token, our own:
- Reduce our plastic consumption,
- Make sure that our waste ends up in recycling centres,
- Consume fish species that are not subjected to overfishing,
- Practise responsible beach ecotourism, etc.
For more information, don’t miss going to our “Oceans adrift” stand at the South Pacific Odyssey pavilion of the zoo during your summer visits.