Often times it seems like the world and our lives are in turmoil, but this is the time of year to think about all the things we have going for us–all those steady support systems that keep us going.
Thinking about the big picture, our beloved ocean is one of these support systems. If you are looking for something to be thankful for this holiday season, look to the ocean. The vast blue that covers 71% of Earth’s surface area, is invaluable to our planet. (Although, some have attempted to calculate the value of the ocean’s ecosystem services.)
Fish have been a part of our diet for thousands of years, and are a major part of world economies today, but they certainly are not the only gift the ocean has to offer. As National Geographic writer, Enric Sala puts it, “Ocean life is our own goose with the golden eggs.”
The ocean makes up 99% of the planet’s livable space. Much of that livable space has yet to be explored, and consequently, much of the life in the ocean has yet to be discovered. Even in the areas we have explored, small invertebrates and algae give insight to compounds that could yield pharmaceutical miracles.
Don’t discount the small players in the ocean! Half of the oxygen we breathe is produced by algae and plankton that we will probably never see.
Countless other services that marine ecosystems provide include: storm protection, coastal tourism, building materials, water quality regulation, and the list goes on. Whatever value you find in the ocean, whether it is listening to the waves crash on the beach, or the pure excitement of encountering its inhabitants, never forget what it means to us and our planet.