Since the dawn of mankind, the ocean has held our fascination. Ancient tribes and civilizations like the Polynesians were master seafarers long before the engine and the GPS. To find their way, navigators relied on the stars, marine life, weather formations, and even the movement of the ocean’s surface itself. Now, we enjoy a multitude of tools developed with state-of-the-art technology to ensure a smooth passage to wherever our adventures take us, whether on a snorkeling cruise to Lanai or a Maui whale watch cruise off Lahaina’s breathtaking coastline. Yet, for many of us, the ocean maintains its mystique, while others take it for granted. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, the following facts may surprise you.
1. About 94 percent of life on Earth is aquatic. Imagine that all the non-aquatic species you’ve seen and heard of only comprise 6 percent of the life on this planet.
2. The ocean’s average depth is about 12,400 feet, and considering that light can only reach 330 feet in depth, just think about how much of the world’s life forms exist in constant darkness. These organisms have compensated for the darkness by developing senses other than sight, and some have even adapted to generate their own light.
3. Scientists believe that there are far more historical artifacts at the bottom of the ocean than there are in all the Earth’s museums combined. This says more about the human race than the ocean, revealing not only the power of nature, but the fierce determination of our ancestors, which led to the world existing as we know it today.
4. Most of the Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, a collection of microscopic organisms living in the ocean and providing the foundation for the world’s ecosystem.
5. About 70 percent of the world’s surface is made up of ocean. Keeping this in mind, it’s no wonder Maui’s migratory humpback whales can reach up to 45 feet, especially considering the fact that the blue whale can reach around 80 feet! The ocean provides plenty of room for these gentle giants, and hopefully their food sources remain healthy enough to continue sustaining them.
6. Only about 5 percent of our oceans have been explored. The exciting thing to consider is how many more discoveries scientists will inevitably make in future explorations.
7. We humans sent men to the moon before we ever discovered the largest mountain range on Earth: the Mid-Oceanic Ridge. This remarkable underwater mountain range is more than 35,000 miles long and boasts peaks higher than those of the Alps.
Perhaps the most fascinating idea of them all is simply knowing that more ocean secrets will continue to be revealed over time for years into the future. How many years? We couldn’t possibly guess, but there are still so many unexplored places that are bound to reveal fascinating geological features, biological organisms, and possibly a host of more unusual surprises. In this modern age, our technology has given us the freedom to travel from one polar end of the Earth to the other, but the ocean’s depths are the next challenging frontier that awaits our ingenuity, and the curiosity that drives us.