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5 Reasons Why the Ocean Is So Important

The ocean is a vast and dynamic system that is integral to supporting a myriad of life forms on our planet.

Surrounded by the ocean, Australia is home to coral reefs, rocky reefs, kelp beds, seagrass meadows, seamounts, estuaries, mangroves, and other habitats.

Almost all Australians live close to the ocean and along the coastline, making it an important part of our daily lives. It also acts as carbon sinks, helps regulate the climate, provides us with oxygen and food, and is critical to our wellbeing.

Below, we explore five reasons why the ocean is so important, why it should be protected and restored, and how to get involved in our Sea the Change project and season of action for the ocean, wetlands, and rivers.

1. The ocean is a habitat for countless marine species.

The ocean is a sanctuary for a bountiful array of marine animals, plants, and ecosystems that support a rich tapestry of biodiversity.

The ocean supports life forms ranging from the largest whale species to tiny organisms like plankton, as well as coral reefs like the Great Barrier Reef and Great Southern Reef that are teeming with life.

In Australia, the ocean supports 50,000 known species — with many still to be discovered.

The leafy seadragon, dugongs, the Sydney pygmy pipehorse, and the southern blue-lined octopus are just a few examples of unique, Australian ocean animals.

The diversity of ocean species and habitats plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem, which in turn provides a myriad of important services we need to survive.

When ocean species are threatened, destroyed, or over-fished, it can create a domino effect, disrupting the delicate ecological balance and threatening the resilience of ocean ecosystems to withstand changes and disruptions.

2. The ocean helps us tackle climate change.

It’s truly incredible to think that tiny, microscopic ocean creatures like phytoplankton help to produce about 50% of oxygen on Earth that we use to breathe.

Not only does the ocean help produce oxygen (and in fact, produce more oxygen than terrestrial forests like the Amazon), but it also acts as a colossal carbon sink.

A healthy ocean absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide and thereby helps to mitigate climate change and global warming.

3. The ocean regulates the global climate.

The ocean’s role as a global climate regulator cannot be overstated.

The ocean absorbs vast amounts of heat from the sun, which is then circulated by a myriad of ocean currents around the world.

Ocean currents act like global conveyor belts, redistributing heat around the planet and influencing weather patterns and local climates.

This process ensures that the Earth doesn’t succumb to severe weather extremes and drastic temperature changes, which would render it uninhabitable for most life forms.

4. We’re all connected to the ocean.

The majority of Australians live along the coastline or near rivers that lead to the sea, which means we’re all closely connected to the ocean.

Despite our physical proximity to the sea, we all depend on the ocean for the oxygen we breathe, the food and nutrients it provides, as well as its ability to sustain biodiversity and regulate our climate.

Our health and wellbeing are therefore directly related to the health of the ocean. We all have a responsibility to protect and enhance the health of our ocean.

Find out more about how to get involved with Conservation Volunteers Australia in supporting ocean conservation by tackling plastic pollution from Sea to Source.

5. The ocean supports our health and well-being.

Lastly, the ocean contributes significantly to our emotional and psychological wellbeing, as well as our health as many medicines come from the ocean.

It’s a place where we can relax, spend time with our families, go swimming or snorkelling, and where many people go to unwind and feel happy.

There’s a profound reason why people are drawn to the coast. The rhythmic cycle of the waves, the vast expanse of water stretching to the horizon, and the fresh, salty air, all have a therapeutic effect, soothing our minds and rejuvenating our spirits.

Many cultures across the world recognise this deep connection between the ocean and human wellbeing, with the sea playing a central role in their traditions and practices.

Final thoughts: reasons to support and protect a healthy ocean

The ocean is much more than just large bodies of water. It is a sanctuary teeming with life and diversity, a nature-based solution to climate change, and a global climate regulator. The ocean feeds and nourishes our bodies and supports our wellbeing.

There are many reasons why the ocean is so important, underlining the critical need to protect and restore this magnificent body of water for current and future generations.

You can get involved in ocean conservation with Conservation Volunteers Australia by tackling ocean litter from #SeaToSource. Under our Sea the Change banner, you can take part in our beach cleanups, help us revive our wetlands, and join us in celebrating World Ocean Day Down Under at Nudgee Beach, QLD, on 24 January (9:15 AM).