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ENVIRONMENT | World Ocean Day 2018

Oceans mean the world to me. Do they mean that to you?

Jaclyn Whittal

Friday, June 8, 2018, 7:30 AM - I'll never forget the trips to Lauderdale By The Sea, Florida, every Spring Break as a kid. 

My parents drove from the Great Lakes  all the way to Lake City, Florida, in precisely 17 hours to get to sun, shopping, amusement parks and most importantly the beach! 

The beach was the highlight of our trip for my brother Jason and I. The ocean was even cooler.

The world's oceans makes up 71 per cent of the earth's surface and makes up 0.23 per cent of its total mass. Friday, June 8, is National Oceans Day. 


What does this mean to me? Let's celebrate all the great things that oceans do for us on Planet Earth. 

They provide water for billions of people, they provide oxygen so that we can breathe here on earth. They can be beautiful to swim in, or lay on a beach and view. 

Oceans are home to thousands of different fish and other sea creatures. Sharks, the beasts of the ocean which in some areas have been close to extinction, have now rebounded and in some areas of the southeastern U.S. are more and more in our water neighborhoods -- not to be feared but to be respected.


Oceans need respect too. What we dump in them, what we take from them. Marine litter is an ongoing concern by humans. We know we shouldn't do it but evidently many still are. 

80 per cent of marine waste is plastic. As of 2017, 8.8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans, harming many types of treasured sea life such as sea turtles. We need to do a better job. 

There are even mountains under the sea. Big ones too. One mountain range known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge extends tens of thousands of miles in length -- longer than South America's Andes Mountains!


The motions of the ocean are known as undulations, or more frequently referred to as waves. My brother Jason and I would swim so far out in the ocean to catch the biggest waves we could find! It was kind of scary. Jellyfish would float by, beautiful fish too. That, until we found out that close to where we were swimming there were barracuda! Uh oh, time to get out for the day.

The first thing my Dad would do when we got settled in the hotel room in Pompano Beach was check the weather. He would tune in on television and then brief the family on the forecast. Before we got to swim in that big sea of fun we learned about the weather. 

Oceans are the number one driver of all of our weather systems across the planet. This is started by the heat of our sun, solar radiation. It has an effect not only on ocean circulation patterns but also our patterns in the atmosphere, where weather likes to hang out! 

Daily weather stories are changeable, monthly patterns are changeable and even yearly patterns are never alike. No two patterns are the same. Picture a thunderstorm, a tornado...the tornado is such a small part of the overall 60,000 ft thunderstorm cloud. The thunderstorm is a small part of the low pressure system that is triggering it. High pressure and low pressure make up the weather, driven by the Jet Stream, driven by the ocean temperatures...see how this works?  

I have had the opportunity to float in the Caribbean Sea under a beautiful fair weather cumulus cloud, by contrast I've seen the sea become angry. As a storm chaser I know what it feels like to whipped off your feet by ocean waves. I have stood off the coast of West Palm Beach, Florida, as a Category 4 hurricane spins just offshore to the east. I have felt the power of the ocean, the strength, the beauty.

On Thursday, June 8, celebrate Oceans Day with me and the rest of the world. A day to celebrate the ocean and what it means to you. Come together as a nation, or better yet, as a planet, to do a better job at taking care of our large friend, the ocean.

World Oceans Day: Do you remember your first time?

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