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Test Your Knowledge About Ocean Connections!
1) Which of the following is a way that humans depend upon the ocean?
a) The ocean provides us with food.
b) The ocean helps to regulate climate and weather.
c) The ocean supplies us with medicines.
d) All of the above.
2) Roughly what percentage of the Earth’s surface is covered by water?
3) Which of the following contains ingredients that come from seaweed?
a) Ice cream
d) All of the above
4) What is an estuary?
a) The place where the river meets the ocean
b) A flavor of ice cream
c) A reservoir for drinking water
d) A species of whale
5) True or False: Lands drain into the ocean?
Ocean Scavenger Hunt!
No matter where we live, we’re all connected to the ocean — even in our own homes! Many things we use or eat in everyday life come from the ocean. Go on an ocean scavenger hunt in your home or visit a local supermarket to see how you’re connected to the ocean.
What to do:
Search for items around your house and school, or visit a local supermarket to find many items that come from the ocean. Ask some friends to try it too, and compare how many items you find!
- carageenan and alginates – ingredient from red seaweed that are used as thickeners in ice cream and pudding
- Nori or hijiki — other types of seaweed used to make sushi
- fish — tuna, halibut, salmon, swordfish, flounder, pollock, cod and catfish are common fish eaten in households
- invertebrates – these are animals without backbones that we might eat, such as clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster and mussels
- cod liver oil – used as a dietary supplement by some people as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
- carageenan — also found in toothpaste, shampoo and some other personal care products
- seashells — used as decorations
- bath salts — contains salts and minerals from seawater
- mother-of-pearl — comes from abalone shell (a type of invertebrate) and is used as jewelry
- pearl — comes from oysters and is used in jewelry
- seashells — used as decorations and jewelry
- movies — find a movie in your home or a local video store that features the ocean or a beach
Activity inspired by Ocean Market, an activity from the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Planet exhibit. Photo courtesy of dnr.sc.gov.
Are the Ocean and Weather Connected?
The ocean and atmosphere are connected – one cannot exist without the other! Oceans absorb energy from the sun and move heat to from the tropics to the Poles. Warm water evaporates, fueling hurricanes and other storms. Water constantly cycles between oceans, land and air.
El Niño is an example of how the Pacific Ocean affects our weather in the United States. It occurs when temperatures on the surface of the Pacific off the coast of South America are warmer than usual. It can cause more rainfall in California and the Rockies, warmer conditions in the Pacific Northwest and New England, and cooler temperatures in the Southeast.
Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.
Learn how you’re connected to the ocean!
- More than 70 percent of the world’s oxygen supply comes from phytoplankton – tiny marine plants and algae – in the ocean. Every two or three breaths, remember to thank the ocean!
- Of the 1.5 million known species on Earth, about 250,000 live in the ocean. About 90 percent of all ocean life lives in shallow water along coasts, including coral reefs.
- Non-point source pollution is a major type of ocean pollution that comes from many sources – we cannot “point” to one source. Sources include stormwater that carries litter into rivers (which lead to the ocean), ships at sea that dump waste, or air pollution that rains down from clouds.
- The world’s oceans provide us with food, medicine, fun and more. However, they can also be dangerous. Tsunamis (huge waves caused by earthquakes), hurricane storm surge and rip tides are just some examples of risks posed by oceans.
First image of phytoplankton copyright Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory. Second image of coral reef courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Third image of stormwater pollution courtesy of campverde.az.gov. Bottom image of Hurricane Andrew’s track courtesy of NASA.
Check out these cool tips and tools about ocean connections!
Tips for Learning More
- Ask your teacher or school to lead an ocean-related project or activity during National Environmental Education Week – April 10-16, 2011!
- Learn more fun facts about the ocean
- Find out how your watershed affects the ocean
- Build a rain garden to reduce stormwater going into rivers and oceans
- Organize a litter cleanup at a local river or stream
- Learn about healthy seafood with EPA’s Fish Kids
- Check out NASA’s Climate Kids to learn what’s happening in the ocean
- Visit a zoo or aquarium
- Read about ocean careers
Image of blue whale by Dan Shapiro, courtesy of NOAA.
- Take an Ocean Bee Quiz to test your ocean wisdom!
- Play online games and interactives from Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Try water activities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Find more online games about sharks, whales and ocean pollution from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures
- Visit the non-point source pollution kids page
- Play ocean, atmosphere and environment games from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Image of coral reef courtesy of NOAA.
1) d. Oceans provide us with food, cycle our water, generate most of the oxygen we breathe, balance our climate, fuel our weather, supply us with medicines and much more. No matter where we live, we all depend on the ocean!
2) c. Earth is sometimes called “The Blue Planet.” Oceans cover 71 percent of its surface and contain 96.5 percent of its water (in the form of saltwater).
3) d. Carrageenan is a substance that comes from red algae – a type of seaweed – that is used in many products around your house. Ice cream, toothpaste, shampoo and other products are made thicker or creamier when carrageenan is added. Check ingredient labels around your house and see how many products you can find that include carrageenan!
4) a. An estuary is a place where two different bodies of water meet, such as a river and an ocean. In a coastal estuary, freshwater (water without salt) from rivers mixes with saltwater from the ocean, forming a partially enclosed body of water that is important habitat and breeding grounds for fish and wildlife. Estuary plants also help filter out water pollution. Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, Gulf of Mexico and Narragansett Bay are all examples of estuaries in the United States.
5) True. When it rains, water drains. A watershed is an area of land that drains rainwater into a common body of water, such as a river or stream. No matter where you live in the United States, rainwater washes litter from the street into storm drains, where it can flow into you local river or stream and eventually into the ocean. You can help at home by throwing trash in proper bins, recycling and organizing a trash cleanup in your community.