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Oceans

Beaches and sun, surfboards and waves. Many things come to mind when we think of oceans, but did you know that there is a lot more to oceans than meets the eye?

It's almost World Oceans Day! On 8th June 2019 to be exact. While you enjoy the local beach beauty spot or holiday paradise, take a moment to think about everything oceans bring to humankind. We have six interesting facts for you to learn about the amazing life source that is the world's oceans; 

1. How many oceans are there on Earth?

So most people would answer this easily. It's four right? That might be the common answer that comes to mind, but it's only partially correct. It's actually a trick question because our wonderful planet is covered by one large world ocean that spans the Earth. But to make it easier, you'd be right in thinking the four officially named oceans are indeed the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian. Now, a fifth ocean is also recognised. The Southern Ocean, which is in the southern hemisphere around Antarctica is now included in the list.

2. Oceans and the carbon cycle

We all know that water is the key to life. But the world's oceans play a huge role in sustaining living things on Earth. Our oceans are vast ecosystems hosting a huge variety of life – from the microscopic to the blue whale. Our amazing oceans are also part of the carbon cycle, another essential process for life. Our oceans produce over half the world’s oxygen and stores 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.

3. Ocean mountains and trenches

Under the surface of the oceans is a whole other world on our planet. You'll find a whole host of topographical features such as mountain ranges and trenches. Do you know the longest ocean mountain range? The Mid-Oceanic Ridge is 56,000 kilometres long, while the deepest known point is the Mariana Trench that dips 11 kilometres. And there's even more about oceans that we don't know because scientists estimate that only 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored.

4. Why do people get seasick?

There's usually one in every family! While everyone else is enjoying the ocean breeze and sunshine, there's the one who looks green with seasickness! But why do we get seasick? Seasickness is a condition where the inner ear detects the movement of the boat or vessel, while the eyes believe that things are relatively stable. This basically confuses your body and can make you feel unwell, sufferers can get terrible nausea and illness. There are some things you can do to help the seasickness sufferer in your family – stay hydrated and try to get some fresh air on deck. You may even think about taking some medication before you set sail if you or your travelling companion suffer badly. And even better, seasickness is often temporary, and eases off after a couple of days - so no need to avoid that cruise! 

5. Microplastics are a threat to the oceans

It's been all over the media recently, so many of us already know that debris and litter are having a devastating effect on our oceans. Threatening marine life and polluting the environment, this is a global crisis that needs addressing. But don't think it's just large hunks of garbage that are hurting our oceans, it's also tiny particles. Microplastics are plastic particles that are less than 5 millimetres in length. These come from the degradation of larger pieces or even small beads that come from some of our most common cosmetic products. There are many studies into what the long-term effects of these microplastics are on marine life. Another reason why it's so important to recycle and consider our own impact on the environment.

6. Seaspeak: the language of the sea

What is seaspeak? Well, this is the internationally recognised language used on boats to communicate from the seas and oceans all over the world. It's not a language as such, but their are rules on how to speak it over radio to make sure the messages are clear and consistent. For example, the use of certain words as markers precede each sentence such as 'Advice', 'Answer', 'Information', 'Instruction', 'Intention', 'Question', 'Request', and 'Warning'. Making effective communication more simple when at sea. 

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