Many of us love the ocean. Going to the beach and admiring the sea is a universal experience. But when we sit, watch and listen to the waves, do we really understand what’s happening beneath the surface, and how much we depend on a healthy ocean? The next time you visit the beach, try to think of these 10 numbers.
1. The ocean produces at least 50% of the Earth's oxygen.
2. The goods and services the ocean provides – from fishing to tourism and coastal protection – are worth at least US$2.5 trillion per year.
3. 800 million people depend on fish for food and income.
4. If the ocean were a country, it would be the world’s seventh-largest economy. The ocean is an engine of economic development – but only if we manage it sustainably.
5. Every day, plastic is flowing into our natural environment at an unmanageable rate – a dump truck every minute into our ocean alone – contaminating food webs, damaging ecosystems and impacting human health and livelihoods. Despite all of that, plastic production is expected to quadruple by 2050.
6. 80% of marine pollution is generated by land-based activities. It is having a devastating effect on our ocean – degrading habitats and directly threatening marine animals and plants, some of them rare and endangered.
7. We’ve already lost 50% of our coral reefs and mangroves − mangroves can sequester four times more carbon than rainforests.
8. 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
9. 1 in 2 marine turtles have eaten plastic.
10. 30% of CO2 emissions from human activities are absorbed by the ocean.
These numbers help paint a clearer picture of how much we depend on the ocean and what our daily actions are doing to it. Thinking of them will help us appreciate the ocean more and act in ways that will benefit it. The next time you’re going to discard a piece of plastic, try to remember one of these numbers.
You can play a bigger role in protecting the ocean by taking on the #ZeroToOceanHero challenge. This 5-week challenge will bring you simple yet effective tips on how you can do your part for the ocean, straight to your inbox. Get onboard and sail away with new knowledge every week!