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Protect Oceans, Protect Life

Frank Gromling
Frank Gromling

Those of us living on the Atlantic coast know there is a large ocean off our beach, but do we think about its importance to life on earth? I suspect not many of us give it much thought.

All of the world’s oceans cover more than 70% of earth’s surface.

Other than the sun, the oceans are the most important force affecting Earth's climate and, therefore, our ability to live. Fortunately, oceans absorb 98% of the sun’s radiation.

Surface currents transport nutrients and help determine the distribution of life in the ocean. They also redistribute pollution and hazardous materials that enter the ocean.

As if that is not enough, oceans and ocean life control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with oceans holding 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. Almost half the carbon dioxide put into the air by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by oceans.

Also, about one billion people depend on fish as their primary food, and a large worldwide population is dependent on fishing for work. Modern medicine is studying the oceans and the life within to identify potential cures for a variety of illnesses, including arthritis, heart disease, HIV, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and others.

When you visit our beaches, you will have the chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful areas in northeast Florida. The ocean waters bring with them untold treasures in terms of fish, crabs, crustaceans, seaweed, turtles, rays, dolphins, jellies, whales, and a host of species too numerous to name. Sometimes our beaches reveal special finds, such as shark’s teeth. A day at the beach is always full of possibilities.

While you are visiting the beach, I hope you do your part to pick up any human trash you see and put it into the nearby trash cans. “Leave only footprints.”