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How BIG is the ocean?

For starters, more than 70% of the Earth's surface is ocean. On top of that, about 97% of the water on Earth is in the ocean. Even more staggering, over 99% of all livable space on Earth is in the ocean! 

Why does the ocean have waves? 

Waves are most commonly created by wind and are actually energy passing through the water, causing it to move in a circular motion. However, water does not actually travel in waves. Waves transmit energy, not water, across the ocean and if not obstructed by anything, they have the potential to travel across an entire ocean basin.

Why is the ocean salty? 

It's believed that millions of years ago, the oceans were only slightly salty. As the Earth matured, rain caused rivers to carry salt and other debris into the oceans, which increased their salinity. Today, roughly the same tonnage of salt (~225 million tons!) gets deposited as sediment on the ocean floor as is carried in by rivers, so the oceans are not getting saltier. 

Can humans safely drink ocean water?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: When humans drink seawater, their cells are taking in water and salt. While humans can safely ingest small amounts of salt, the salt content in seawater is much higher than what can be processed by the human body. Our kidneys aren't built to handle those levels of salt, which is why drinking sea water dehydrates humans.

What is a rip current?

Powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that occur by the coast. Rip currents can reach speeds of up to eight feet per second, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer! Panicked swimmers often try to counter a rip current by swimming straight back to shore, putting themselves at risk because of fatigue. If caught in a rip current, do not panic. Simply swim parallel to the shore until you're out of the current, and then come back to shore at an angle.

Learn more at the linked resources on the right side of the page.

Ocean Monitoring
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