How much of the ocean remains unexplored?

Scientists have successfully landed rovers on Mars and sent spacecraft to the dark side of the moon. Yet, the vast majority of the ocean remains unexplored. 

The ocean is a huge body of saltwater that covers about 71 percent of Earth’s surface. 97 percent of the world’s water is found in the ocean. Because of this, the ocean has considerable impact on weather, temperature, and the food supply of humans and other organisms.

Despite its size and impact on the planet and on humans’ health, the seas remain a mystery. More than 80 percent of the ocean has never been mapped or explored.

About 226,000 marine species have been identified and described so far. Even though it seems like a large number, these are just a small portion of the total: researchers estimate that the ocean may be home to 700,000 marine species.

Why we know so little?

Dr. Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, explains that the ocean, at great depths, has zero visibility, extremely cold temperatures and crushing amounts of pressure. He declares that, in some ways, it’s a lot easier to send people into space than it is to send people to the bottom of the ocean.

The pressure of the air pushing down on your body at sea level is about 15 pounds per square inch. If you went up into space, above the Earth’s atmosphere, the pressure would decrease to zero.

What is the risk?

The problem is that it is difficult to protect what we don’t know. So, only about 7% of the world’s oceans are designated as marine protected areas (MPAs). And sadly, most MPAs in the world right now, are not high quality.

So, the first step for many interested in ocean health is to get some protections in place for biologically rich areas of the ocean. There are many organizations and people pushing for this aim, and they are looking forward for a global initiative to conserve 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

How can we help?

  • Spread the word about issues facing our ocean to your friends, family and peers.

  • Avoid plastic as much you can and shop wisely. Choose plastic-free essentials. 
  • Volunteer your time to clean up.

  • Educate yourself. The best way to begin your ocean advocacy is to know the hows and whys :) 


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