In honour of World Oceans Day which happens on June 8 (please don't forget to wear blue!) I am writing about one of the things I love most, the ocean.
First, some facts: the ocean covers more than 70 per cent of the surface of our planet and about 97 per cent of the Earth's water is in the ocean. An estimated 50 to 80 per cent of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface, with the oceans taking up 99 per cent of the living space on the planet. Less than ten per cent of that space has been explored by humans, with 85 per cent of the area and 90 per cent of the volume constituting the dark, cold environment we call the deep sea.
Some of Earth's most impressive wonders, such as its mountain ranges, volcanoes, waterfalls and lakes exist in the depths of the ocean. If we include mountains starting on the seafloor, the world's tallest mountain is not Mount Everest. It is Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. While Everest stands 29,035 feet above sea level, Mauna Kea stands 13,796 feet above sea level with an added 19,700 feet below sea level which means that from base to summit, Mauna Kea is 33,496 feet tall. The underwater waterfall in the Denmark Strait is the largest waterfall on Earth, with a drop of 11,500 feet and a flow rate exceeding 175 million cubic feet per second.
With the ocean being such a big part of our world, my question is, "Why is marine science not taught in most schools? Why is Marine Science not a requirement for college when other areas of science are? Is it as simple as "out of sight, out of mind?" If more of us lived on a boat or by the sea, perhaps we might care more to understand how this most amazing source of life remains one of our greatest mysteries. By comparison, we know more about Mars than we do about the Pacific.
To appreciate something, one has to know more about it. That is why even for those as young as four-years-old in Pre-K at THS, we have included a Marine Science strand for all our students. We need to know that the ocean has as much to do with their breathing as trees do: ocean plants produce HALF of the world’s oxygen. We need to appreciate the vital, healing properties of water and that it absorbs nearly one-third of our carbon dioxide emissions. The ocean even regulates our weather and forms the clouds that bring us fresh water.
Here are some more thoughts from our Middle Schoolers about why Marine Science should begin in primary school:
Aiyana: Marine life is important because they are part of our ecosystem. There are also a lot of issues happening in the oceans today such as radiation, oil pollution, overfishing, bycatch (dolphins), shark finning, and whale populations are rapidly decreasing. There are many species in the ocean that are on the verge of extinction due to humans. How can we help resolve these issues and disappearing species if we don’t even learn in school that they are in trouble?
Brandon: Ocean exploration is essential for us to uncover knowledge and wisdom for generations to come. Geological mapping may one day find a passageway deeper than the Marianas Trench or hidden underwater volcanoes dating back to the creation of the Earth! Not only that, a knowledge of every rock, glacier, iceberg, or hazard could help mariners navigate across the ocean more safely. Many of the world's greatest treasures lie deep in the ocean.
Daisy: People go to the beach and play in the water all the time. However, the ocean is much more than a place to hang out. They need to have respect and understanding for their surroundings. It is common sense to know what a tree is but it should be the same for a coral. Studying the ocean should at least be an option in schools. You can learn bizarre subjects that I have never heard of but for some reason there is a rare choice of learning about our ocean. There is more to an ocean than it just being a blue, wavy thing that you sometimes visit.
Patrick: You can learn more stuff about the Earth by studying the ocean than the land. There are most likely ancient creatures (alive or in fossil form) found in the deep that could give us a view of what Earth used to look like. The Megalodon shark is believed to be extinct but it might still be there. We wouldn’t know because we have explored and seen very little of the deep.
I couldn't have come up with better reasons myself. We should study the ocean because it is LIFE.
There's no better people who understand this than the Moken, sea-gypsies in the Andaman Sea. We might consider ourselves civilized, but we have much to learn from them. This is a video from our expedition to Myanmar to study and learn from the Moken two years ago.