The ocean is a vital ecosystem covering 70% of the Earth’s surface and is home to around 240,000 marine species. Its well-being impacts creatures all across the globe, so by working to keep it healthy we’re not only helping marine life—but all life.
Unfortunately, the ocean is in serious trouble. Global warming, acidification, pollution, and plastics pose serious threats to its health. The ocean is extremely important and here are four reasons why you should care about its welfare.
The ocean is known as a “carbon sink” because it absorbs a lot of the carbon that is in the atmosphere—25% to be exact. Plus, it captures 90% of the excess heat generated by these emissions and it produces 50% of the oxygen we breathe. So it’s critical in regulating the Earth’s climate and oxygen production.
While it’s not the literal ocean that absorbs the carbon emissions, it is the ocean’s habitats that capture greenhouse gasses. Mangroves in particular are some of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet—storing on average 1,100 tons of carbon per hectare. These trees also provide incredible homes for fish, improve water quality, and protect the shore from storms. However, with the ocean’s rising levels of pollution, it’s becoming difficult for mangrove forests to thrive in their natural habitats.
The ocean feeds us with its inhabitants making up 15% of the animal protein we eat. And in some communities, seafood is the primary source of protein for over half of the population.
When it comes to finding a better, more sustainable protein source, seafood is the clear winner. Land-based meats (chicken, beef, pork) are all major contributors to carbon emissions and tend to be higher in unhealthy fats. Seafood, on the other hand, can have more protein than beef, is chock full of Omega-3s, and, when caught sustainably, doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
The key to protecting our oceans and maintaining our food security is to practice sustainable fishing methods. Currently, more than 10 million tons of fish go to waste every year because of destructive fishing practices. If we cannot change the way we fish, over half of all marine species will be extinct by 2100.
Economic Support & Development
The U.S. ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services and ocean-dependent businesses employ almost three million people. This includes tourism, fishing, and research and the coastal communities depend on this booming market for their livelihood. Coral bleaching, ocean acidification and pollution, and rising sea levels put their economies at risk.
The ocean is also a major thoroughfare for shipping and trading goods. 76% of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation. Sea freight is crucial for economies, and it’s the “greener” option as opposed to air freight. The carbon footprint of airplanes is 20 to 30 times more than ships. So keeping boats afloat will keep our oceans afloat too.
Recreation & Adventure
Sure, there are lots of serious reasons to keep our oceans healthy—but there are fun ones too! From boating and kayaking to snorkeling and whale watching, the ocean provides us with plenty of unique adventures.
At Catalina Sea Camp, campers learn about the importance of the ocean while partaking in all of the fun it has to offer. Our programs like oceanography, marine labs, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, scubaing, and snorkeling are designed to make learning about the ocean fun and dynamic.
The Earth Needs a Healthy Ocean
The ocean affects all of us no matter where we live. It provides climate regulation, food, economic support, and plenty of fun. So we have to work together to protect and save our oceans for the sake of saving ourselves.
When campers attend Catalina Sea Camp, they’re not only immersing themselves in the camp experience to create deep, meaningful camp friendships, but they’re also learning about the ocean and their role in saving it.