This article has been updated and improved. It was originally published in October 2013.
When we think of the ocean, we usually think of the gentle waves, salty air and blue appearance that goes along with it. This is quite literally only the surface of this vast, seemingly other world of the ocean. We’ve got some pretty mind blowing facts for you about the deeper, darker parts of the big blue. And though we’re no oceanographers, we’re here to give you info about the great blue that I’d wager you’ve never heard before.
1. Corals Produce Sunscreen
On the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have discovered the production of natural sunscreen within the corals. It may also protect the fish that feed on the coral, according to this article by Dermascope. It’s a protection mechanism against UVA/UVB rays. As you can imagine, chemists are trying to get their hands on this.
They are attempting to extract it for human use, which would create a natural sunscreen for humans, however it could potentially destroy a huge portion of the coral reefs. Other sources claim to just mimic the process.
2. Treasure Trove
There is nearly 20 million tons of gold hiding in all that salt water. With only 1 ton being worth nearly $37,000,000, the ocean is truly worth its weight in gold. Before you go quit your day job and become an ocean gold hunter, though, you should be aware that most of the gold in the ocean is dissolved and is so diluted that you probably won’t get more than 13 billionths of 1 gram of gold in a liter of seawater.
There is more concentrated gold at the ocean floor, but as the US National Ocean Service points out, it is usually 1-2 miles below the surface and encased in rock that would have to be mined to actually reach the gold. That makes me think maybe instead of getting rich off the ocean, we’re supposed to appreciate the impossible beauty of it instead.
3. Intraterrestrial AliensWe know more about planets that are 35 million miles away that we do about our own ocean!
When it comes to Mars, we know quite a lot of information. We know how far away it is, its general shape and size are totally mapped out. Even the elemental composition isn’t any mystery.
But when it comes to the ocean, we have explored less than 5%. That’s nothing! SO…who are the real aliens here? Martians? Or this guy (pictured below)?
Image via Wikinut.com
4. Ferocious Sea Beasts
Folklore and mythology have circled around the topic for thousands of years. Could there be monsters living in the sea? Some popular ones are:-Loch Ness Monster (6th century/Scottish Gaelic folklore) -Kraken (Norwegian folklore) -Hydra, Charybdis, Sirens (Greek Mythology/Homer)
Even without these mythical creatures, though, ocean creatures are scary enough! Even though they’re probably a bit smaller than the Loch Ness, I wouldn’t want to find myself in an encounter with any of these guys.
Photograph by Glen Weierbach, via Nationalgeographic.com
The mantis shrimp is the most horrifyingly beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Do not be mislead by it’s majestically colored exterior displaying the entire rainbow spectrum in a glorious fashion. This little dude is a beast.
The strike of one mantis shrimp forelimb reaches velocities that produce a force equivalent to a 22 caliber bullet.
The speed and force is so rapid that the water around it boils. The bubbles produced then pop and create shock waves. Light is even emitted. Basically, if you are the object of it’s prey, you’re a gonner.
The Mantis Shrimp also has super vision. Humans can see 3 color receptive cones. Sources vary on how many the Mantis shrimp has, but it’s somewhere between 12 and 16.
For more frightening imagery… And the promise of nightmares… See the following:
Photograph by David Wrobel
5. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Although some light can reach down to 1000 feet, most light cannot penetrate below 200 ft. However, the ocean is much deeper than this (as we will see in #6 below). That means most of the ocean is completely void of light. It’s totally dark down there. Kind of like outer space, except on Earth.
Actually, if you think about it, most of the world (since the ocean takes up 70% of the planet) is in desperate need of a nightlight! It’s mind boggling to think there’s so much life we can’t even see.
6. It Just Keeps Going
One of the most mind boggling facts about the ocean is how deep it really reaches. The absolute deepest point of the ocean is called Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. It’s about 11,000m below sea level, which means if we put Mt. Everest at depth of Challenger Deep, you would have to swim at least a mile to get to the surface.
The deepest part of the ocean is about 11,000m while Everest is less than 9,000m Photo by SCMP
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What have you learned about the ocean? Is there any amazing fact you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!