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Ocean: As a Resource

Ocean or water mass on the planet earth covers 71% of the total area, though, this colossal water
body has different names in different region, yet they are interlinked with each other, and land
masses are separated by these oceans. There are four principal oceans: viz
(i) The pacific
(ii) The Atlantic
(iii) The Indian and
(iv) The Arctic Ocean
There oceans have peculiar characteristics. Pacific is the largest ocean occupying, two
fifth of the total area of hydrosphere, is called ‘the water hemisphere’. The Atlantic Ocean is S-
shaped and opens into the Arctic Ocean in the north and into the Antarctica Ocean in the south
(The Antarctic ocean is supposed to extension of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean). And the Indian
Ocean, the only ocean named after a country is bounded in the north by South Asia.
Well, right from the beginning of civilization these Oceans giving its favour to human beings by
means of transportation, defence and fishing. Though, these Oceans are potentially full of
resources but initially human beings were unable to exploit these marine resources. Nevertheless,
the exponentially increasing population have been exhausted the land resources which ultimately
moulds towards Ocean and hence, developed the technology in order to exploit marine resources
e.g. Oil and gas, mineral resource like, sulpher, gold, salt etc.
The properties of Oceans
(i) Oceanic Water is Saline: - Ocean water is Saline and its average salinity is around 35%,
though it varies latitudinally but the constitution of salt into the water is remaining same
everywhere. It contains, sodium chloride, Magnesium, Calcium Sulphates and Chlorides
(ii) Temperature: - Temperature of the Oceanic water varies latitudinally as well as vertically,
hence, it has different average temperatures in different regions i.e. in tropical region
average tamp is around 26.50 C, in the temperate region 15.50 C and 1.110 C, in Sub-polar
(iii) Density: - Greater than normal water.
(iv) The Ocean water is always in motion and it has three sorts of movements i.e., currents,
waves, and tides.

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(v) The Oceans have verities of marine life, ranging from the unicellular protozoa to huge
multicellular mammals.
(vi) Oceanic deposits: - Oceanic bottoms have mineral depositions, from two sources viz.....
(a) Terrigenous deposits, (from, rivers and waves) and
(b) Pelagic deposits (from volcanic dust and Oozes).
(vii) The contact zone of the land and Sea is known as the datum plane. Elevation and depths
are measured with reference to the datum plane.
(viii) The inundated coasts which abound in extensive continental shelf and natural harbors are
especially favourable and ideal for economic activities.

Usage of Oceans for Man:

Potentially Oceans have great economic Significance for human beings and it also play
important role in several ways viz....
1. Oceans Influence on climate: Oceans are the main source of rainfall. And the winds coming
from the Oceans control the temperature in the coastal areas. Sea Breezes keep the coastal
areas cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Oceanic currents also control the temperature of coastal areas e.g. the Gulf stream off
the eastern coast in the USA and the North Atlantic Drift off the coast of north western
Europe, keep coastal areas warmer during winter. Consequently ports located in these areas
remain open for trade the whole year.
Besides, the ocean is an integral component of the world’s climate due to its capacity to
collect, drive and mix water, heat and carbon dioxide. The ocean can hold and circulate more
water, heat and carbon dioxide than the atmosphere although the components of the Earth’s
climate are constantly exchanged, hence act as “Climate Buffer”.

2. Oxygen production

Phytoplankton’s account for possibly 90% of the world’s oxygen production because water
covers about 70% of the Earth and phytoplankton is abundant in the photic zone of the surface
layers. Some of the oxygen produced by phytoplankton is absorbed by the ocean, but most flows
into the atmosphere where it becomes available for oxygen dependent life forms

3. Health and Recreational Values of Oceans:

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Moderate climate of coastal regions is very much favourable for human health. Indeed, three
major characteristics of coastal climate i.e. equability, same humidity, and variability prove
favourable for human body.
In tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions people frequently visit for their recreation.
4. Food supply from Oceans:
Well, food from Oceans, people are extracting right from the beginning. Fish is major source
of food, obtained in the Oceans. In 20th century fishery is well developed occupation for
temperate countries particularly in the northern hemisphere like, China, Japan, USA, India,
Canada, UK etc.
There are three main types of edible fish, fared on the location where they live, viz.:

(a) Pelagic Fish: Leave near the surface and include the species life mackerel, tuna, herrings
and anchovies
(b) Demersal Fish: It obtained near the sea bed of the continental shelves, down to a depth
of about 200 mtrs. Important species are cod, haddock, halibut, and sole of the temperate
regions and garoupa and snapper of the tropical regions.
(c) Anadnomous Fish: It is migratory fish which live in the Sea but swim into the fresh
water of certain costal rivers every year, i.e. Salmon fish.
Important fishing grounds of worlds are:

(a) Grand banks off the Atlantic coast of eastern USA

(b) Dogger banks off the coast of north Western Europe.
(c) The east pacific coast of North America from California to Bering Sea.
(d) The coastal areas of north eastern Asia (west pacific). Including Japan, Sakhalin, eastern
Siberia and northern China and
(e) The Peruvian coast in South America
Besides, Fishes. Planktons, Seaweeds, invertebrates, Myctophids, krill etc also used as food
resource. These food resources are very important because:
(a) They have amino acids in the correct ratio for human use.
(b) They are better source of vitamin B12
(c) They are low in cholesterol and saturated fats, and
(d) They are high in poly unsaturated fats and the essentials fatty acids.

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5. Minerals from the Oceans:

Humans began to mine the ocean floor for diamonds, gold, silver, metal ores like manganese
nodules and gravel mines in the 1950s when the company, Tidal Diamonds, was established by
Sam Collins. Diamonds are found in greater number and quality in the ocean than on land but are
much harder to mine. When diamonds are mined, the ocean floor is dredged to bring it up to the
boat and sift through the sediment for valuable gems. The process is difficult sediment is not
easy to bring up to the surface but will probably become a huge industry once technology
evolves to solve the logistical problem.

Metal compounds, gravels, sands and gas and petroleum hydrates are also mined in the
ocean. Mining of manganese nodules containing nickel, copper and cobalt began in the 1960’s
and soon after it was discovered that Papua New Guinea was one of the few places where
nodules were located in shallow waters rather than deep waters. Although manganese nodules
could be found in shallow waters in significant quantities, the expense of bringing the ore up to
the surface proved to be expensive. Sands and gravels are often mined for in the United States
and are used to protect beaches and reduce the effects of erosion.

6. Water:
The world's oceans, with a total volume of more than 500 million cubic kilometers, hold more
than 97 percent of all the water on Earth. However, the 3.5-percent salt content of this water
makes it unusable for most human needs.

The extraction of fresh water from ocean water has been carried out for many years, but provides
only a very small portion of the water used, and remains quite expensive relative to land-based
water resources. Technological advances, especially in reverse osmosis, continue to increase the
efficiency of fresh-water extraction. However, geographic limitations and dependency on world
energy costs pose major barriers to large-scale extraction

7. Energy resources from the ocean:

With the advancement of technological development, scientists are started to extracting

renewable energy recourses from the oceanic waters. The important energy resources are viz...

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(a) Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): It works upon the natural temperature
differences between the warm surface and the cold deep waters of the oceans. Surface
waters, which easily heated by sun in Tropical areas whereas deeper waters cooled by polar
under oceanic currents and this difference, is about 200C which is suffice to produce
(b) Osmotic pressure: Since the oceanic water is saline and salinity increases the density of
water, hence where abundance of fresh water like mouth of the river is is ideal condition
for electricity generation. Because these places have density differences consequently the
water level in the salty region will rise until the pressure on salty water is equivalent to a
column of water, and the increased pressure stops the flow of molecules through
membrane. This pressure differences known as osmotic pressures differences, could be
used to produce electricity by passing the water under pressure through turbine.
(c) Tidal energy: Periodic rise and fall of oceanic water which is popularly “Tides”. Since it
carry tremendous amount of energy therefore, very conducive for the generation of
8. Ocean navigation:
The art of navigation has evolved gradually. People of ancient Egypt, China, Mesopotamia
and India and in medieval period Portuguese, French Italian Germany etc. advanced the
Nowadays, modern and highly mechanized steamers, ships and liners are being used for
navigation purpose. There are following features which support navigation in ocean viz....
(a) Oceans are free highways, they do not entail laying of roads or railways and setting up
(b) Heavy and bulky goods are easily transported.
(c) Steamers use less fuel then locomotives
(d) Very few chances of accident
(e) Maintenance cost is negligible

9. Oceanic waters keep the costal areas clean:

The upcoming and going tides and waves kept on cleaning the impurities in costal areas

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Problems with the oceanic resources:
In due course of time, the land resources gradually coming towards it extensions which
spontaneously mold mankind towards oceans, but again these sources of resources are polluted
out of impolitic exploitations by human beings . There are follwong problems associated with it.
(i) Pollution:
In theory, shipping can have a low impact on the environment. It is safe and profitable for
economies around the world. However, serious problems occur with the shipping of oil, dumping
of waste water into the ocean, chemical accidents at sea, and the inevitable air and water
pollution occurring when modern day engines are used. Ships release air pollutants in the form of
sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. Chemicals
dumped in the ocean from ships include chemicals from the ship itself, cleaning chemicals for
machine parts, and cleaning supplies for living quarters. Large amounts of chemicals are often
spilled into the ocean and sewage is not always treated properly or treated at all. Alien species
riding in the ballast water of ships arrive in great numbers to crash native ecosystems and
garbage is dumped over the side of many vessels. Dangerous industrial waste and harmful
substances like halogenated hydrocarbons, water treatment chemicals, and antifouling paints are
also dumped frequently. Ships and other watercraft with engines disturb the natural environment
with loud noises, large waves, frequently striking and killing animals like manatees and dolphins.

(ii) Tourism:

Tourism is another threat because it gradually devastating coastal habitats likes mangroves, coral
reefs, wetlands and estuaries. Garbage and sewage generated by visitors can add to the already
existing solid waste and garbage disposal issues present in many communities. Often visitors
produce more waste than locals, and much of it ends up as untreated sewage dumped in the
ocean. The ecosystem must cope with eutrophication, or the loss of oxygen in the water due to
excessive algal bloom as well as disease epidemics. Sewage can be used as reclaimed water to
treat lawns so that fertilizers and pesticides do not seep into the ocean.

Other problems with tourism include the overexploitation of local seafood, the destruction of
local habitats through careless scuba diving or snorkeling and the dropping of anchors on

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underwater features. Ecotourism and cultural tourism are a new trend that favors low impact
tourism and fosters a respect for local cultures and ecosystems.

(iii) Mining:

The ocean can be devastating to the natural ecosystems. Dredging of any kind pulls up
the ocean floor resulting in widespread destruction of marine animal habitats as well as wiping
out vast numbers of fishes and invertebrates. When the ocean floor is mined, a cloud of sediment
rises up in the water interfering with photosynthetic processes of phytoplankton and other marine
life in addition to introducing previously benign heavy metals into the food chain. As minerals
found on land are exploited and used up, mining of the ocean floor will increase.

Some other source of oceanic pollution:

(iv) Pesticides
(v) Toxic metals
(vi) Radioactive elements (through weapon testing’s, via atmospheric fallout and from atomic
power industries etc.)
Apart from pollution due to excessive whaling and fishing, the population of whales and
fishes pathetically went down. Deceasing number of whales and species of fishes is great threat
to marine ecosystem.
Nevertheless, marine resources are only raise of hope for the men kind after extinction of
land resources. Hence, there should be must careful management and planning of these
resources, which would ultimately usher sustainable development. Though, the immediate
dangers of marine life due to humane intervention are local rather than global, confine to certain
costal areas where mixing rates are slow, especially in bays and estuaries. In such circumstances
the non-tidal and enclosed seas (like Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea) obviously present the
special problems.
Although, some programmes have already been implemented which promotes policies and
science that support ecologically sustainable and economically viable ocean management since
1996 and it emphasizes upon:

 Ecosystem approaches to ocean and fisheries management

 Ecosystem-based science programs for management

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 Conservation of the world's seabirds and shorebirds

 Funding for ocean science, management, and conservation

 Besides, some other programmes also launched viz....

Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Programme

In 2003, the Ocean Policy Program was able to play a key role in securing $21million of
state bond funds for what has become the Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program
(COCMP). The program, using relatively inexpensive, shore-based monitoring technologies such
as high frequency radar, is providing information expected to benefit a wide range of ocean
management concerns, including oil spill trajectory modeling, coastal water quality monitoring,
and fisheries management.

Near shore Fishery Management Plan (2002)

The Near shore Fishery Management Plan (FMP) lays out the state's path to adopting
risk-averse management that incorporates ecosystem concerns. The Near shore FMP is one of the
pioneer efforts in the fisheries world in incorporating fundamental elements of ecosystem
approaches management.
There is no qualm that all these programmes are mastermind but still its implementation is either
on the paper or very local in nature, hence, in order to make human life prosperous, it is
necessary to galvanize all these programmes globally.


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