Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

What is South Australia’s ocean?

South Aus­tralia doesn’t have one ocean but three! The Antarc­tic, Indi­an and Pacif­ic Ocean all meet and inter­mix off South­ern Aus­tralia cre­at­ing an amaz­ing dynam­ic envi­ron­ment that influ­ences every aspect of our lives from the weath­er we expe­ri­ence, to the coastal envi­ron­ment we enjoy and the food we eat.

Here are 5 inter­est­ing facts about South Australia’s por­tion of the South­ern Ocean,

  1. Warm water inputs: In the west­ern por­tion of South Australia’s ocean waters, tem­per­a­tures are influ­enced by a warm water cur­rent from West­ern Aus­tralia called the Leeuwin Cur­rent. These warm cur­rents allow some high­ly mobile fish species typ­i­cal­ly of trop­i­cal ori­gin to be observed in the Great Aus­tralian Bight.
  2. Cold water inputs: The Great South Aus­tralian Coastal Upwelling Sys­tem is respon­si­ble for bring­ing nutri­ent rich cold water to the sur­face cre­at­ing phy­to­plank­ton blooms and pro­vid­ing key food sources for krill and sar­dines which are in turn impor­tant food sources for whales and fish like tuna.
  3. Sig­nif­i­cant car­bon sink: The South­ern Ocean is a major car­bon sink, absorb­ing more car­bon diox­ide than it emits. This helps mit­i­gate the effects of cli­mate change by reduc­ing the amount of CO2 in the atmos­phere. It’s esti­mat­ed that the South­ern Ocean absorbs about 30% of the human-pro­duced CO2 in the world’s oceans.
  4. Great South­ern Reef: The great south­ern reef stretch­es from WA to NSW and sup­ports amaz­ing marine bio­di­ver­si­ty, much of which is found nowhere else on the plan­et. SA’s ocean­ic waters help sup­ply nutri­ent, oxy­gen, and food to the GSR where you can find blue grop­ers, leafy see drag­ons, giant cut­tle­fish and a host of sharks and ray species. There is also an incred­i­ble vari­ety of life grow­ing on the GSR, includ­ing macroal­gae, sponges, crus­taceans, bry­ozoans, echin­o­derms, and molluscs.
  5. Marine parks: South Aus­tralian waters are pro­tect­ed by a net­work of 19 marine parks in state waters, and 7 Aus­tralian marine parks in Com­mon­wealth waters. Both marine parks net­works are an impor­tant tool for con­serv­ing marine biodiversity

Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

Why are oceans important?

Accord­ing to the UN, there are 5 main rea­sons to care about our oceans,

  1. Cli­mate reg­u­la­tion: The ocean absorbs 25% of car­bon emis­sions and gen­er­ates 50% of our oxy­gen, help­ing to com­bat cli­mate change.
  2. Food source: It pro­vides 15% of the ani­mal pro­tein con­sumed glob­al­ly, essen­tial for many populations.
  3. Jobs and liveli­hoods: 3 bil­lion peo­ple depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.
  4. Eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment: The ocean econ­o­my is val­ued at $3 tril­lion annu­al­ly, dri­ving sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic growth.
  5. Sur­vival: A healthy ocean is cru­cial for our over­all well-being and survival.

Why do oceans need to be saved?

Our oceans are fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant threats due to a com­bi­na­tion of human activ­i­ties and envi­ron­men­tal changes.

  • Pol­lu­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly plas­tic waste, is con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing marine ecosys­tems and harm­ing wildlife; it’s esti­mat­ed that 8 mil­lion met­ric tons of plas­tic enter the oceans annu­al­ly, lead­ing to dead­ly con­se­quences for marine ani­mals that ingest or become entan­gled in it.
  • Over­fish­ing is deplet­ing fish pop­u­la­tions faster than they can replen­ish, dis­rupt­ing the bal­ance of marine ecosys­tems and threat­en­ing food secu­ri­ty for mil­lions who depend on seafood as a pri­ma­ry pro­tein source.
  • Cli­mate change is caus­ing ocean tem­per­a­tures to rise and sea lev­els to increase, which con­tributes to coral bleach­ing and the loss of vital coastal habitats.
  • Addi­tion­al­ly, the oceans are absorb­ing about 30% of the car­bon diox­ide emit­ted by human activ­i­ties, lead­ing to ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion that affects shell-form­ing species and the broad­er marine food web.

These com­bined fac­tors high­light the urgent need for glob­al con­ser­va­tion efforts to pro­tect our oceans and ensure their health for future generations.

Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

How can I help pro­tect our oceans?

To help pro­tect our ocean, you can:

  1. Reduce plas­tic use: Use reusable bags, bot­tles, and straws to keep plas­tic out of the ocean.
  2. Get involved in restora­tion: Get involved with restora­tion projects aimed at restor­ing ecosys­tems like man­groves for coastal pro­tec­tion or sea­grass for car­bon seques­tra­tion, help­ing to reduce ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion. Check out your local coun­cil ini­tia­tives to get involved or explore DEW’s vol­un­teer­ing options.
  3. Clean up: Join beach or riv­er clean-up events to remove rub­bish from waterways.
  4. Save water: Use less water to reduce runoff that can car­ry pol­lu­tion to the ocean.
  5. Learn and share: Edu­cate your­self about marine life and share what you learn with friends and fam­i­ly to raise aware­ness. Join a snor­kel­ing tour or become a cit­i­zen sci­en­tist.

Now you under­stand what all the comm-ocean is about, you can help keep our oceans healthy!

What is World Ocean Day?

World Ocean Day is cel­e­brat­ed on 8 June every year and brings togeth­er more than 2,000 organ­i­sa­tions from over 150 coun­tries every year to work togeth­er on con­ser­va­tion efforts. It’s a day to unite, cel­e­brate, and advo­cate for our oceans and a healthy climate.

Want to learn more about the unique marine life in South Australia’s waters? Take a look at sev­en of the most pop­u­lar marine crea­tures that live in SA’s waters.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living