The Ocean: TheEarth’s Largest Habitat

Connect yourself to the depths of the ocean, where there are no waves.
The deeper you go, the more you’ll find stillness, calmness, grounding.
– Sadhvi Bhagavati Saraswati –

Published on Gili Life

The Blue Planet

We tend to call the planet we live on “the Earth”, while it’s actually mostly made by water. Seventy (70!!) % of the surface of our planet is in fact covered by the ocean, which represents 97% of the world’s water supply. The ocean is vast and mysterious, as scientists have not unveiled all the secrets held by these vast bodies of salty water surrounding the continents. Life began in the oceans millions of years ago and it remains the home of the majority of living organisms, from the smallest plankton to the largest whale, from microscopic algae to the massive coral reef. Oceans greatly affect life in and outside their waters and are crucial to the comfort and survival of the lives of billions of people and of living beings. Oceans are a cradle of diversity, a treasure-chest of resources and what distinguishes our small planet from the rest of the known Universe. The oceans are divided in fours major sections, namely the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Arctic. All the seas and salty bodies of water can be comprised in these largest areas. The ocean can be as deep as 11,000 km, like in the Mariana Trenches, although half of the world’s salty waters are about 3 km deep.
The Indonesian archipelago is located between the Pacific and the Indian ocean and is part of the Coral Triangle, a geographic area that hosts about 76% of the world´s coral species and almost 40% of the world´s coral reef fish species. Million of people rely on the ocean’s resources. The livelihood of almost 3 million Indonesian households directly depends on marine resources and half of the country’s animal proteins are sourced from fish and seafood.

Did you know?
When a whale dies, it falls at the bottom of the ocean, where it provides food to other organisms for up to 75 years.

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Down in the realm of perpetual darkness

As the sea gets deeper, light and temperature decrease and water pressure increases, giving way to a dark and extreme environment where life is intolerable to humans and requires tremendous adaptations to the life forms that live there.
The lowest layer of the sea is one of the least unexplored and most mysterious zones of the earth. The deepest point of the oceans is in the Mariana Trench, at a measured depth of almost 11 km. Deprived of most sunlight, in the deep-sea there are no plants, low oxygen levels, extremely high pressure and scarce resources for organisms to rely on. Immense abyssal plains and deep brine pools, namely basins of very salty water, characterise this environment. In spite of these harsh conditions, life thrives. Volcanic water springing from hydrothermal vents and cold seeps, fissures in the seafloor, is an important source of heat and energy, while marine snow, a continuous rain of organic matter, provides food to many deep-sea life forms. Water springing from hydrothermal vents is rich in minerals. More than 300 species of different taxonomic groups have been observed living around hydrothermal vents. Organisms that live at such depths have developed specific survival strategies and range from colossal sharp-eyed predators, eyeless scavengers and bioluminescent animals emitting light with their body.

The word “abyss” comes from the Greek ἄβυσσος, which means “bottomless”.

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Human Impact

The biggest threat to the oceans’ well-beings is human activity, which impacts nearly all oceans around the world. Environmental disasters such as oil and toxic substances spilling by the naval and the industrial sector as well as practices such as throwing garbage and sewage into the oceans are seriously affecting the oceans’ health. In addition, the oceans’ resources are being depleted at an alarming rate, with widespread illegal fishing causing many fish species to be endangered. The great garbage patch is probably the most appalling result of human activity in the oceans. A gyre of marine debris mainly composed of microscopic plastic debris extends for an area in the Pacific ocean that ranges between the size of Texas and the size of Russia (between 700 thousand and 15 million square metres). Conservationists estimate the Great Garbage Patch is made of about 80,000 metric tonnes of debris, most of which do not exceed 0,5 cm of size.

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What you can do to protect the ocean
• Refuse plastic! No straws, no take away food in disposable containers, refuse plastic bags and prefer large packages when available. Do not buy single-use shampoo/cleaning products sachets and always carry a refillable water bottle!
• Join a beach clean up! Many dive shops in the Gili’s organise a weekly beach clean up. Have fun while protecting the planet!
• Refuse to eat small fish and endangered species (ex: baby tuna and shark fins!)

If you want to know more about how to help during your stay in the Gili’s islands contact info@giliecotrust and sharks@gilisharkconservation.com

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