With estimates from NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center putting the world’s water coverage at 321,003,271 cubic miles, it might not come as a shock that there is so much of our oceans left unseen. 71 per cent of the planet is covered in water, and we have only explored a small fraction of it. In this article, Tracerco, who operate within the subsea pipeline inspection industry, look at what little we have unearthed from the sea.
A world of life
We know of hundreds and thousands of life forms in the ocean, but many experts believe there could be millions of species underwater. There are also around 4,000 species of coral reef fish found across the globe — that’s close to a quarter of all of the world’s marine fish species—though be aware that a millilitre of ocean water contains close to 1 million bacteria and 10 million viruses.
Valuable pieces of history
All the museums in the world cannot match the number of historical items swallowed by the sea. There is almost 20 million tons of gold within the Earth’s oceans too — if all which was suspended was mined, there would be enough to give each person on the planet around 9 pounds of gold. Up to $60 billion in sunken treasure is housed on the floors of Earth’s oceans as well.
Plus, there is a plethora of natural treasures and resources. Scientists predict that there could be as much as 50 quadrillion tons of dissolved solids found within the Earth’s oceans — calcium salts, magnesium salts, potassium salts and sodium salts make up the bulk of this huge figure.
But these treasures share their waters with something less revered. Every year sees an estimated 14 billion pounds of garbage dumped into the world’s oceans though, with most of this being harmful plastic.
Communication and trade
The ocean provides ample space and means to carry cargo and messages too! Over 90 per cent of all trade between countries is carried by ships, while around half of communications between nations occur using underwater cables — subsea technologies included. This is why pipeline inspection is vital to ensure no disruption to these important services.
Hidden mountains and sights
The deepest part of the world’s oceans is the Mariana Trench. Located in the western Pacific Ocean and to the east of the Mariana Islands, the deepest point found here measures in at an estimated 11,000 metres — or 36,000 feet. The average depth of the Earth’s oceans is also 3,720 metres — or 12,200 feet.
Also, the longest mountain range in the world is beneath the water. Named the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, this mountain chain stretches for more than 56,000km across and covers parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, Earth’s highest mountain in the ocean is the Mauna Kea. Found off the coast of Hawaii, the mountain rises for 10,203 metres (33,474 feet) from the ocean floor, with 4,170 metres (13,680 feet) viewable above sea level.
Along with this, the largest living structure lives under the sea. This is the Great Barrier Reef — it measures around 2,600km and is so huge that it can be spotted from the Moon. Also, on the ocean floor near to the Gulf of Mexico, brine pools can be found as can underwater volcanoes where mud and methane explode from them as opposed to lava. There’re also underwater hot springs found across the Earth’s oceans, where water with temperatures of 650°F shoot out — that’s hot enough to melt lead.
For all this knowledge, we are still a far cry from knowing everything about our oceans. National Geographic says we have so far only explored around five per cent of the Earth’s oceans to date — that means that we have more detailed maps of Mars than we do of our planet’s ocean floor.