Oceans: Blue heart of the planet

 

Almost three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered in water and around 90% of all the living space on Earth is contained in the oceans.

These vast reserves cradled early life and continue to be home to a wealth of extraordinary creatures. At least 230,000 unique species have been documented, although as humans have only explored a small fraction of the depths, there may be as many as two million.

As well as being home to everything from whelks to whale sharks, the oceans offer a range of critical services, including acting as a source of food and regulating the atmosphere.

In particular, the oceans are also vital as sponges for green house gases, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through two processes – dissolving straight into the water column and also through photosynthesis by phytoplankton.

Today, the oceans soak up around one third of all of human carbon emissions

But this comes at a terrible cost. The composition of the oceans is changing to become more acidic, threatening the tremendous diversity of creatures that call them home.

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