June 8 is official “Celebrate the Ocean Day,” and though I’ll most likely be nowhere near an ocean today (for those still unaware, I’m on a research trip in Japan), here’s a photograph of the ocean I’m closest to:
Technically, that’s the Sea of Japan, and not an “actual ocean” but I think it’s close enough for the task at hand.
Almost 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans, and few people know or appreciate how diverse and largely-unexplored they are.
The average depth of the ocean is 2.5 miles, and it contains 99% of the earth’s habitat that is capable of supporting life. 90% of this is in the deep-sea regions known as the abyss (or abyssal plains). In other words: most of the earth’s habitat is under water.
I speak from experience when I say that more goes on beneath the sea than we realize. Five years of keeping a salt-water reef has taught me (startlingly, at times) that the ocean teems with life in myriad strange and wonderful forms.
Lovely, colorful fish:
And brilliant corals:
And those are just the ones most people can name.
Sadly, many of the world’s coral reefs are in decline, from coastal development, non-sustainable fishing, pollution, tourism, and climate shift. While we can’t necessarily stop this decline, we can help the reefs–by respecting them when snorkeling or scuba diving, paying attention to the behavior of companies we patronize, and purchasing captive-bred specimens for our home aquariums. I try to “reef sustainably” by raising specimens in my tank, which I then return to the reef store and trade for other specimens raised in captivity. When I do acquire a wild-caught specimen (I prefer not to, but on occasion I do), I make sure the specimen isn’t endangered, that it will survive–and hopefully, thrive–in my reef, and that the company which acquired it engages in sustainable practices.
I’ve always loved the ocean and the creatures that live there, but reef keeping has made me even more aware of the diversity and beauty of oceanic life.
Have you ever gained a stronger appreciation for the natural environment through a hobby you enjoy?