The Great Below: 10 Astonishing Facts About the World’s Oceans
By Ben Samuels
Located eight miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida are the headquarters to a government agency you’ve never heard of. And if you do make it there you’ll just scratch your head. All your eyes will feast on is…blue. To arrive at your destination, the next turn is straight down, 63 feet below the surface of the ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Undersea Laboratory Aquarius is the pinnacle of man’s marine biology research. On the outside, it looks more like a living, breathing reef than its true metallic structure which is covered by adaptive coral life.
Aquarius can sustain human life for up to ten days, and indeed boasts residence and research facilities rivaling those of modern space stations. It’s a marvel of modern engineering and scientific achievement in and of itself, but what makes Aquarius truly special is what it’s being used for.
You are watching the first exciting episode of Mission Aquarius – Make the Dive!
KoldCast TV proudly calls itself home to Mission Aquarius, an Internet TV series chronicling the latest and potentially final mission of America’s “Inner Space Station.” Since 1993, Aquarius has helped us understand the disappearance of coral reefs, train NASA astronauts for space, and research sea sponges, the source of cancer drugs. It is one of the planet’s most important brain trusts, and its budget has been cut.
Exactly half a century has passed since Jacques Cousteau’s groundbreaking Conshelf I expedition. The Continental Shelf Station, as it’s also known, was the first inhabited underwater dwelling. Submerged beneath 33 feet of water near Marseilles, it paved the way for years of ocean research and discovery.
Since then, the ocean has steadily been deteriorating due to pollution, over-fishing, urban runoff, reef destruction, plastic trash, and climate change. Ocean life now faces an unprecedented rate of extinction.
Well aware of the crisis, aquanauts Drs. Sylvia Earle and Mark Patterson are now co-leading a new expedition to the NOAA Aquarius Undersea Laboratory. Their mission is five-fold: Scientific Research, Coral Reef and Ocean Observing, Undersea Technology Development, Training, and perhaps most importantly Ocean Education and Outreach.
Utilizing interactive broadcasts, they launched Mission Aquarius to educate and amaze schools, aquariums, and camps around the world. The doctors and their team believe that “great storytelling has the power to change the world.” So do we.
The Sixth Wall researched the great mysteries of these magnificent bodies of water that cover 70% of our home planet in hopes of motivating people to step up and help combat these crises before it’s too late. We came up with ten incredible Facts to spark your newfound appreciation:
1. About 70% of the planet is made up of ocean water with an average depth of more than 12,400 feet. Given that photons cannot penetrate past 330 feet below the water’s surface, the vast majority of our planet resides in perpetual darkness.
2. Human beings have only explored less than five percent of the Earth’s oceans. In Fact , we have better maps of Mars than we do of the ocean floor.
3. Much of life in the ocean, as on land, is invisible to the naked eye. If you’ve ever swallowed a milliliter of ocean water, you’ve gulped about one million bacteria and 10 million viruses along with it.
4. The atmospheric pressure at the deepest point in the ocean is more than 11,318 tons per square meter. That’s the equivalent of one person trying to support 50 jumbo jets.
5. Blue whales are the largest animals our planet has ever seen, exceeding the size of the greatest known dinosaurs. Their hearts are the size of small cars.
6. Life in the ocean 3.1 billion to 3.4 billion years ago. Land dwellers only appeared approximately 400 million years ago. That’s a fraction of a second on the geological clock.
7. Of all the plants and animals that exist on planet earth, at least 85% of them live in the oceans and seas.
8. Nearly one million people in the United States have jobs that directly depend on the ocean; jobs that add $12 billion to our annual GDP.
9. 50% to 70% of our breathable oxygen comes from the ocean, more than all of the world’s rainforests combined.
10. Unless we change our current rate of consumption, we’re within less than a century of living in a world where jellyfish are the only seafood option left on the menu.
Dr. Sylvia Earle says our actions over the next 10 years will determine the state of our oceans over the next 10,000 years. Check out Mission Aquarius to learn more and get inspired to change the great below.
Click to Enter Aquarius and Take a Tour of this Incredible Undersea Laboratory
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Ben Samuels has worked in film development and production on both the studio and independent side. He’s currently a freelance writer, entrepreneur, actor, and self-described space nerd. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensamuels or on his tumblr, To be.