Researches from across the length and breadth of the world are curious about discovering black holes and planets that are billions of kilometers away but won’t pay heed to explore the oceans that lie in front of them. Why is that so?
Maybe because the ocean is not the limit anymore? Or does it lack the aesthetic reasons that would spew human interest in it? I mean just look at the pictures below.
A Normal View Of The Majority Of Oceans
A view of Earth from space
What Would You Prefer Gazing At If Given A Chance?
As the pictures reek, the majority of the oceans below 50 miles is boring, barren and aesthetic-less, unlike space. Yes, there are stunning, unexplored territories like geothermal vents and coral reefs. But these are very few throughout most of the ocean and headed towards extinction due to anthropogenic reasons. However, is this enough reason to limit ocean exploration?
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Most of the oxygen present in the atmosphere is produced by the sea. Water from the sea evaporates to form clouds and initiate downpours, sleet and snowfalls. Moreover, oceans drive climate change, stabilizes temperature, and shapes Earth’s chemistry. And despite all these factors that affect human life we are least concerned about ocean exploration.
How Much Ocean Is Still Left To be Explored?
Ocean exploration experts believe that a thorough and comprehensive mapping of the ocean is still missing leaving us with only 5% of the ocean that we can declare mapped. These stats stands nowhere close when compared with the area of a couple of celestial bodies that we have mapped to this day.
As of now, we have mapped about 98% surface of Venus and 90% of the surface of Mars.
Surprised? Well, you should be.
The image below gives us a glimpse of the ocean that has been mapped by humans. From a distance the picture might look appealing, however, once you zoom in to take a better look, you will notice most of the mapping tracks are between commercial shipping ports and/or along bustling coastlines.
There are significant gaps in the middle of oceans as well as in the Polar Regions where the mapping is required. By all means, the pictures declare that most of the world’s oceans are largely unexplored and await human presence rather than plastic waste.
For facts, more humans have stepped on the surface of the moon than dived into the deepest Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
What Stops Us From Exploring The Oceans?
Now the question arises, why the ocean has been neglected all this time until an oil well needs to be towered. Factually, there are five reasons behind the same.
1. Lack Of Visibility
Oceans are a dark and dangerous place. Even the most powerful flashlights help little to no extent once you cross a specific point in the ocean. Although you can see the bottom of the sea when it is only a few meters down but tracking where to go steadily gets more and more complex as the depth increases.
2. Ever-Increasing Water Pressure
The pressure of water deep in the ocean is way higher than the pressure on the surface. Seawater pressure increases by 0.45 pounds per square inch as you plunge into the depth. Most of the ocean is 4,000 to 5,500 meters deep and at this depth, both water pressure and lack of visibility could add to your exploration woes.
If one of your hobbies is swimming, you must be aware of the concept of Buoyancy. For the vast majority of us, we float on seawater and so does equipments like submersible. Weights are attached to pull these equipments down into the sea. But ascent and descent have to be done at a controlled pace or it may cause the vehicle to shrink
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4. Lack Of Funding
Researching and designing equipment that can survive in such dangerous situations demands capital. And even you have the required equipment, you will need to rent a mother ship to deploy the same in the oceans, which is also expensive to operate. The lack of capital is a demotivating factor for ocean explorers who really want to explore the oceans.
5. Is Ocean Exploration Worth The Time?
The information we would garner exploring the oceans isn’t valuable enough to spark human interest. Yes, you will find a zillion new species or maybe answers to why dinosaurs went extinct. But all this won’t solve a practical problem like population explosion. On the other hand, exploring space may help find humans a habitable planet to colonize. Thus it makes it a lucrative area to put exploration efforts.
The changes in the world oceans affect our lives on land. Having occupied 70% of the total earth and over 90% of the living space, ocean influence everything from climate to flora and fauna. Thus, understanding the world ocean and how it’s changing becomes crucial because, at some point in time, such changes will affect life on earth.
Moreover, besides adding to our knowledge of the oceans for our safety and economic gains, ocean exploration will also quench humans’ thirst for knowledge of the unknown.