The Most Fascinating Facts About The Largest Living Space Inhabited By Living Organisms In The Universe
Our planet s oceanic divisions – the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, Antarctic (Southern) Oceans – form the largest part of the Earth s hydrosphere (over 97% of the Earth s water) and approximately 71% of the Earth s surface is occupied by the oceans. Only 5% of the Earth s oceans has been explored so far. The exact origin of our oceans is unknown, but scientists believe that they have formed in the Hadean period, the first geologic eon on Earth. Scientists also believe that the oceans may have been the impulse for bio genesis, the natural process by which life emerges from inorganic matter, referring to the origins of life on Earth.
Our five oceans provide 99% of our planet s living space and thus, they compose the largest space inhabited by living micro- and macro-organisms in the entire Universe, while over 90% of this habitat occurs in the abyss (the deep ocean floor found typically at depths of 3000-6000 m). The abyssal plains represent the smoothest, flattest and least explored areas on Earth. Our oceans are bodies of saline water, whose average depth is 2.5 miles. The largest ocean is the Pacific and the second largest oceanic division on Earth is the Atlantic.
The Great Barrier Reef represents the biggest coral reef system (comprising more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands) on Earth, which measures 1,243 miles. It is situated off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in the Coral Sea and, it has been a World Heritage Site since 1981 and it can be watched from the outer space, including from the Moon. This huge coral reef supports an outstanding diversity of life, including endangered species which are unique to the coral reef habitat. Climate change, pollution, excessive fishing and shipping are constantly threatening this spectacular underwater habitat. The longest mountain chain (more than 40,000 miles) in the Universe is found in our oceans.
Mount Everest is approximately 1 mile smaller than the Challenger Deep, which is the deepest part of the Mariana Trench (which represents the deepest point in the ocean – 6,86 miles deep), discovered in 1951 and where the water pressure is over 8 tons/square inch. The average temperature of our oceans is 2 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit). The blue color is mostly absorbed by phytoplankton, which are microscopic plants that drift in seawater and less by seawater, which contains bacterial cells, phytoplankton and zooplankton (microscopic living organisms). The High Seas (ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction) occupy 50% of the Earth s surface and they are not protected by law.
The currents of our oceans have significant effects on the Earth s climate and wind patterns, because they transfer heat from the tropics to the polar regions and they play a key role in sea ice regulation. The size of the ice sheet which forms each year over the Antarctic Ocean is about two times bigger than the US. Oceans also influence the biosphere and thus, the biodiversity of plants and animals in each region. Another form of life which is based mostly on chemical energy, instead of light energy lies in hydrothermal vents found in deep sea, along ocean ridges. The blue whale, which is the biggest animal to have ever existed on Earth, far bigger than the largest dinosaurs is found in our oceans and the size of its heart is similar to that of a car. The gray whale has the most extensive migration of any mammal (over 10,000 miles each year).
Also, oceanic evaporation represents the source of rainfall and the most dramatic forms of weather (hurricanes, typhoons) occur over the Earth s oceans. Over 80% of the oceans pollution is caused by land-based activities and more oil is spilled into every year in oceans due primarily to ships and leaking vehicles. Overfishing in Earth s oceans is a major problem and due to this fact, the Grand Banks in New England are closed. The coastal waters affected by pollution cause severe diseases in humans. Plastic waste kills millions of sea birds and mammals each year and global by-catch reaches 20 million tons each year.