Earth: our water world

This is not Planet Earth, it’s Planet Water

Oceans cover 71% of our planet’s surface and make up 95% of all the space available to life.
The rolling waves, glassy stillness, or frosty ice we see on the ocean’s surface hide an amazing variety of underwater worlds - from sunlit coral reefs to dark abyssal canyons, from forests of giant kelp to mussel communities clustered around scorching hydrothermal vents, from tidal mangroves to the vast open ocean.
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Breaking waves, Tenerife, Canary Islands. Spain.
© Anton Vorauer / WWF-Canon
Rich biodiversity

Life began in the oceans, and continues to thrive in its diverse habitats. With as many as 100 million species - from the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth, the blue whale, to the tiniest bacteria - marine biodiversity far outweighs that on land. And new species are being discovered all the time.

Vital role for life on land...

The oceans also have a huge influence on us landlubbers. They produce 70% of our oxygen, absorb heat and re-distribute it around the world, and dominate the world's weather systems.

...and shapers of human history

The oceans have also shaped human history, culture, and lives - and continue to do so. We eat their bounty, bask on their beaches, swim in their waves, dive around their wonders, send our goods and raw materials across their surface, and mine their mineral- and oil-rich floors. There are very few people who are not somehow influenced by the oceans, even if they never set sight on one during their life.
Sally lightfoot crab (<i>Grapsus grapsus</i>), Isabela Island, Galapagos Islands, ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Pablo CORRAL
Sally lightfoot crab (Grapsus grapsus), Isabela Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
© WWF-Canon / Pablo CORRAL
Find out more: Coasts
Coastal habitats - such as tropical coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and kelp forests - are some of the most productive and biologically diverse areas on Earth.
Bigeye trevally (<i>Caranx sexfasciatus</i>) congregate in schools for safety from ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Cat HOLLOWAY
Bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus), Fiji.
© WWF-Canon / Cat HOLLOWAY
Find out more: Open ocean
In the vast expanse of the open ocean swim some of the fastest creatures on Earth.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Erling SVENSEN
Amphipod (Stenopleustes latipes) resting on a deep-water coral (Paramuricea placomus), Trondheim fjord, Norway.
© WWF-Canon / Erling SVENSEN
Find out more: Deep sea
The deep sea is home to weird and wonderful creatures and a variety of habitats, from abyssal plains to hydrothermal vents to underwater mountains covered in cold-water coral.

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