6 fun facts about the ocean and all that lives there

Fun facts

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For #WorldOceansDay, we thought we’d dive deep into the abyss to bring you six fun facts about the ocean, its animals, and its less obvious treasures and phenomena

The sea is a mysterious place. Many of its animals and plants are organisms that we never come into contact with, and most of us can’t even begin to conceive what life, or lack thereof, is like at the very bottom of such a vast volume of water. Did you know that around 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, yet mankind has only managed to explore around 5% of all the oceans? Okay, that was a little starter fact for you — we’ve got six more!

The giant squid does exist

Close-up of squid suckers under water — ShutterstockA female giant squid can grow up to 13 meters in length — Shutterstock

Often depicted in old sailors’ stories and frightening fairy tales for children, the giant octopus was always considered a mere legend. However, in 2004, Japanese researchers captured the first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat, finally proving its existence. Since then, many other recordings and studies have been published and we finally know a little more about these mysterious cephalopods.

Unlike the picture that literature and legends have painted of this creature, the giant squid isn’t the cruel beast that spends its time fighting sperm whales or sinking ships.

In fact, they usually end up as said sperm whales’ prey. However, their dimensions are extraordinary — it’s no wonder sailors speak of them with respect. A female giant squid can reach a length of 13 meters. Males are slightly shorter, at 10 meters on average.

Lakes, rivers and even waterfalls can be underwater

Aerial view of underwater waterfall off the Mauritian coast — ShutterstockThis is what an underwater waterfall looks like from above — Shutterstock

The underwater universe is actually very similar to the world at ground level, with only two differences: there’s water everywhere (shocker), and all its physical features are simply much larger. There are huge mountains, cliffs, volcanoes, and even lakes and rivers that can flow for thousands of kilometers. These bodies and currents form when salt water meets with fresh water, and their different densities create a layering effect.

Similarly, even waterfalls can appear in the ocean, such as the Denmark Strait cataract in the Atlantic between Iceland and Greenland. With a drop of more than 3,500 meters, this is the world’s highest underwater waterfall and it’s formed due to the colder water from the eastern side being pushed downwards by the warmer western water.

The White Shark Café isn’t actually a café

Great white shark in the sea — ShutterstockDon’t expect a warm welcome and a flat white at this café — Shutterstock

The life of the infamous great white shark has always been a notable facet of human curiosity. The solitary creatures spend their lives in constant migration around the world’s oceans without the intention of disclosing any personal plans. But in 2002, scientists managed to find out that sharks, like many humans, have their favorite vacation spot. Often dubbed as the White Shark Café, the Colorado-sized area lies in the North Pacific, and with a surprisingly abundant source of food there, it serves as a winter and spring retreat for Jaws and his pals.

There are more artifacts in the ocean than in all the museums combined

Shipwreck on the sea bed — ShutterstockMore than three million shipwrecks lie at the bottom of the world’s oceans — Shutterstock

Sailing on the world’s seas and oceans bears a mark of significant danger, and rightly so. It’s estimated that over three million shipwrecks have found their resting place on the sea bed. The most interesting thing is, though, that the majority of the lost ships carried countless treasures and artifacts. Together, they would outnumber all the relics in the world’s museums.

Corals produce their own sunscreen

Brightly-colored coral reef colony — ShutterstockRather altruistically, the corals’ self-made sunscreen compounds also protect their predator fish — Shutterstock

Oceans aren’t just an epitome of danger and extremity — they’re also a place of constant development and improvement to the world. For instance, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is home to the largest colony of corals in the world, and it has a considerably positive impact on the environment.

As well as giving something back to us, it might surprise you to know that corals are also well-versed in the science of looking after one’s skin. Researchers discovered just a few years ago that they produce natural sunscreen compounds to protect themselves — as well as the fish that feed on them — from ultraviolet light.

The Mariana Trench is the deepest place on the planet

Under the sea in the Mariana Trench — 1840489pavan nd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia CommonsSince 1960, a handful of descents have been made into the trench — 1840489pavan nd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With a maximum depth of almost 11 kilometers, the Mariana Trench is the site of the deepest point on earth that we know of. With a lack of sunlight and a tremendous amount of water pressure, this trench is more than hostile to most organisms who dare to venture into it.

However, there is an animal that has taken advantage of the conditions, even managing to become the main predator of the area — the Mariana snailfish. This pale, tadpole-like creature may look cute, but it’s totally fearless of the dark void, once even being captured 7,966 meters below sea level. This is the deepest fishing catch ever recorded.

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