Sunday, 28 February 2016

Oceans: Facts and Myths!

Oceans: Facts and  Myths!

I happen to hit this topic from an ice breaker activity in my GMCS 2 class. Wherein we were asked to convey to the class a few things from our bucket list i.e. a list of things which you wish to explore and haven’t tried before.
Travelling in a cruise to the 5 oceans was one of the few.
To take a step closer to fulfilling it, I went on to read about these 5 oceans. And I discovered that within these deep waters lies some well discovered and proven facts as well as some mysterious myths.
None of the below points come from my experience, and hence, I cannot vouch for their accuracy.
But they seem to be quite well researched and reliable.

Highlighting the Facts:
1.      On Earth, the ocean covers almost 70.80% of its surface. These are, in descending order by area, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans.
2.      Though generally described as several separate oceans, these waters comprise one global, interconnected body of salt water sometimes referred to as the World Ocean or global ocean. Oceanographers have stated that less than 5% of the World Ocean has been explored.
3.      The origin of Earth's oceans remains unknown.
4.      The bluish color of water is a composite of several contributing agents. Prominent contributors include dissolved organic matter and chlorophyll.
5.      Oceanic evaporation, as a phase of the water cycle, is the source of most rainfall, and ocean temperatures determine climate and wind patterns that affect life on land.
6.      Mount Everest (the highest point on the Earth's surface 5.49 miles) is more than 1 mile shorter than the Challenger Deep (the deepest point in the ocean at 6.86 miles).
7.      The longest continuous mountain chain known to exist in the Universe resides in the ocean at more than 40,000 miles long.
8.      The world’s oceans contain nearly 20 million tons of gold. A lot of treasure deep down there.
9.      The blue whale, the largest animal on our planet ever (exceeding the size of the greatest dinosaurs) still lives in the ocean; it's heart is the size of a Volkswagen.
10.  The gray whale migrates more than 10,000 miles each year, the longest migration of any mammal.
11.  The Great Barrier Reef, measuring 1,243 miles, is the largest living structure on Earth. It can be seen from the Moon.

12.  Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish each year. Plastic remains in our ecosystem for years harming thousands of sea creatures every day.

Busting the Myths:
The ocean is huge and mysterious. There’s a lot of rumors circulating – do you believe everything you’ve heard about the ocean? Let us clear out the misinformation by some myth busters.

Myth 1: Sharks are vicious man-eaters!


Truth:
Movies like Jaws often portray sharks as being vicious, human-hungry killers.
In reality, sharks, like most fish, are quite shy and usually swim away from divers and swimmers when they do encounter us.
When sharks do kill people, it’s usually surfers who fall victim to these attacks, since surfboards can look like a seal (a delicacy for sharks) from below.
Even with these instances, sharks only kill about 10 people per year.
While sharks only kill a few of us, it is estimated that we kill about 100 million of them every year.

Myth 2: The Ocean provides us with seafood, and that’s about it!

Truth:
Being a vegetarian, still I would agree with the fact that seafood is critically important – 1 billion people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein, most of whom also depend on seafood as their main source of income. But the oceans give us so much more than just food
Oceans produce 50% of our oxygen – Every second breath you take is thanks to the oceans, they are literally giving you life.
Oceans absorb 26% of our Carbon Dioxide emissions – That’s 2.5 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide.
Oceans control our weather and keep us warm – Europe is much further north than the US but has much warmer climates thanks to the warm Gulf Stream flowing reaching western Europe. 

Myth 3: Sight of a Mermaid! 


Truth:
Mermaids are just characters in stories, of course. But people sometimes think they see them in real life.
It might seem strange to confuse a slow-moving blubber sea cow Manatees with a beautiful and fish-tailed human creature.
Even today there are false mermaid sightings. After a fake documentary special on mermaids aired on Animal Planet in 2013, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was flooded with calls from people asking for the truth about mermaids. The truth is that mermaids are entirely fictional.

Myth 4: Mars and Venus have had large water oceans!

Mystery:
The Mars ocean hypothesis suggests that nearly a third of the surface of Mars was once covered by water, and a runaway greenhouse effect may have boiled away the global ocean of Venus.
Though the water on Mars is no longer oceanic (much of it residing in the ice caps). The possibility continues to be studied along with reasons for their apparent disappearance.
While mermaids hold much of our attention and affection, their real life doubles are left struggling in the sea.

Myth 5: Possibility of convergence of Baltic and North Seas! 




Mystery:
This phenomenon has been a highly debated topic.
The convergent point of the North and Baltic Seas occurs in the province of Skagen in Denmark. However, because of the differing rates of densities of the seas’ waters, the sea waters continue to remain separate in spite of their convergence. They don’t mix well!


Sources:
www.worldoceansday.org
www.savethesea.org
www.ocean.si.edu

Image sources:
North and Baltic Seas: www.quota.com
Mermaid and Manatees: www.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com
Shark, land use: en.wikipedia.org
Great barrier reef: www.divezone.net, www.422south.com


Thank you for reading!


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