Oceans cover roughly 70% of the Earth’s surface, but so far, humans have explored less than one percent of what lies beneath. What would we find at the bottom of the oceans?
What kind of creatures would we see? And how would this clarity affect the ecosystem?
What makes these waters murky? Well a number of things from floating sand, phytoplankton and all sorts of living orgnaisms that aren’t just fish. But imagine if none of this were blocking your view?
You’d be quickly reminded of how much garbage we put into the ocean. 1.4 billion tonnes of trash is put into the ocean every single year.
In a clear ocean, you’d be able to see it easier than ever. Not only that but think of all the old shipwrecks you’d be able to see? Hope you brought your scuba gear, because buried treasure will be much easier to find.
And what about all the ships still afloat? There are over 100,000 ships on the oceans at any given time, and standing on the beach looking at them, they’d all appear to be floating in mid-air.
And how many fish could you see? Well, not as many as you might think. According to a research center in Lowestoft, England, the ocean has about 5 billion tonnes of fish in it.
This is enough to fill Loch Ness in Scotland. But that’s only a tiny percentage of the Earth’s water, nearly nothing when compared to the vast oceans.
That said, you’d see a lot of fish, definitely more than what you’re used to today. But you’d also be surprised by the vast emptiness of the ocean and just how much of nothing that you’d see.
People have been mapping out the ocean floor for decades, and thanks to this, we mostly picture it as a very bumpy, sometimes mountainous surface. But if the water was more transparent, you’d quickly realize the ocean floor is quite smooth.
What kind of things do you think you’d find on, say, the bottom of the Marianas trench? No, you probably won’t see a Kraken, but you will see thousands of previously undiscovered species.
According to UNESCO, they discover roughly 150 new fish species in the ocean every year. They suspect that within the next 30 years they’ll have discovered nearly all of them. With a transparent ocean, you can expect that to happen a lot sooner.
But with the water being crystal clear it’s assumed the ocean would be lacking in phytoplankton, since that’s a large aspect of what makes the ocean either blue or green. Without this organism, fish could be in serious trouble. Phytoplankton is one of the biggest resources for food for every single species in the ocean. Fish feed off of them constantly and without them, the fish would have a much harder time surviving, only predators would have a real shot at lasting.
And how would all this sunlight entering the fishes’ home affect them? The viability of 90% of all habitats within the ocean is dictated by the sun. This habitable area is known as the photic zone. This is where photosynthesis can occur. And thanks to photosynthesis, fish receive oxygen and are able to thrive.
In it’s current state, only certain parts of the oceans are considered to be in a photic zone. These areas are generally less than 150 meters below the surface. But if the oceans were to be completely transparent, theoretically, every part of the sea would be a photic zone. Sunlight would continue down over 3,500 meters (11482.94 ft)! This would allow colonies of fish to live all over the sea.
That’s if they manage to survive. Because the other thing that would happen if sunlight traveled all the way to the bottom of the ocean, is that the water would warm up. That’s because all the sediment on the ocean floor would be absorbing more heat than ever before. At the extreme, more sunlight in the ocean would increase the temperature enough to decrease the amount of oxygen in the water.
With less oxygen, fish would be in serious trouble. You see, fish need oxygen just as much as we do. They take in water, and extract dissolved oxygen which fuels their cells. With less oxygen in the water, vast numbers of fish could die.
So, our super-clear ocean may look even more beautiful and exciting than it does now, but it wouldn’t last long. Maybe we should just be happy with the murky water we have. After all, look at all we’ve seen. But imagine if we didn’t have oceans? That they just dissapeared? What would happen then?
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