The ocean is Earth’s most vital feature. It holds 97% of our planet’s water, produces over half of the oxygen in our atmosphere, and has a major influence on weather and climate. The ocean sustains all life on Earth, including ours.
At the Seacoast Science Center, we believe that the World Ocean plays a prominent role in our daily lives; moderating our climate, providing sustenance and valuable resources, and as a place of biodiversity and natural wonder. We also recognize that the actions we take in our daily lives can impact the World Ocean in both positive and negative ways. It is our shared responsibility to safeguard the health of the ocean and protect this critical resource that provides us with oxygen, food, a favorable climate and much more.
The Gulf of Maine, located right off our coast, is one of the fastest warming bodies of water on the planet. From 2004-2016, the Gulf of Maine warmed faster than 99% of the planet’s ocean. Why are our waters warming so rapidly and what effects will these changes have on our ocean ecosystems, our economy, and on us? Increased levels of carbon dioxide are causing the planet to warm and that heat is being absorbed into the atmosphere and into our global ocean. Melting in the Arctic is changing circulation patterns in the Gulf, resulting in changing temperatures, which in turn affect the health of many species that live here, their life cycles, reproductive and larval distribution patterns, and overall health.
Human activity on land and at sea has an influence on the ocean today and in the future. The ocean is threatened by climate change, ocean acidification, over-harvesting, habitat destruction, pollution, the spread of invasive species, and more. But, there is hope. We have never known more about our changing ocean, its threats, and how to protect its future. Through our programs and exhibits, we teach why ocean health matters. We inspire people to care about and for the ocean and help them understand how the small choices we make every day can make a big difference in the health of our ocean, human health, and the health of our planet.
Just like our own bodies, the planet is made up of several systems that work together. We can think of the ocean like our heart and circulatory system, pumping water, heat, nutrients, and living things around the planet. Extra heat, pollutants, trash, overfished systems, and habitat destruction are stressing our global ocean. These stressors can wreak havoc on the animals and algae that live in the ocean, fisheries, and even affect our weather and climate, increasing the frequency and intensity of storms.
We have a shared responsibility to protect the health of our ocean. By reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, single use plastics, and reducing our consumption, we can help protect the ocean, our planet’s heart.
The Seacoast Science Center is committed to meeting the national call to strengthen the country’s awareness of the importance of the ocean and create an ocean science literate society. We know, that through education, people will better understand the function of the ocean and make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources. There are 7 essential principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean. To learn more, visit the Ocean Literacy web site.