With winter around the corner and cooler temperatures in the air, it’s prime time for missing the beachy days of summer. Luckily, marine scientists get to think about life under the sea all year long. If you’re fascinated by the mysteries of the ocean, then a career in marine science might be just the career for you. Every summer, the SSA offers a variety of science courses, including marine biology. You’ll spend a week conducting research and exploring topics like oceanography.
While you wait for warmer temperatures at Summer Science Academy to come around again, check out these 10 incredible facts about the ocean and marine life:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that the ocean covers more than 70% of the surface of our earth. Plus, 97% of the earth’s water is found in the ocean. Meanwhile, only around 10-30% of volcanic activity actually happens on land — the rest of it is happening on the ocean floor!
The ocean is so vast that more than 90% of ocean species aren’t classified. In fact, 95% of the ocean hasn’t even been explored by scientists. That certainly leaves a lot of room for future marine scientists to make their marks.
Fish are known for being cold-blooded, but in 2015, NOAA researchers discovered a fish called the opah (moonfish). The opah is a large, colorful, completely warm-blooded fish that is able to swim more effectively than other fish thanks to its heated blood.
The ocean has never been a quiet place, but marine species rely on their sense of sound to survive underwater. Dolphins, for instance, name and locate their offspring using signature whistle sounds. Underwater life organisms use sound to avoid predators, too, and to help them navigate the waters. Unfortunately, human activity is loud. From shipping and drilling to recreational pursuits, human noise travels deep into the ocean. This sudden increase in noise has a negative impact on marine life, compromising the activity of ocean creatures.
Many people understandably fear jellyfish. Jellyfish stings can be painful and, although rare, some species can even cause fatal sting reactions. In fact, dangerous jellyfish like the box jellyfish account for more deaths than sharks each year. For the longest time, jellyfish were thought by scientists to be an underwater nuisance. Instead, most recent research has begun to find that jellyfish are valuable contributors to the ocean food chain.
Maybe the Discovery Channel should change Shark Week to Jellyfish Week, considering how unlikely it is for a shark to attack a human. While it may feel like shark attacks are rising, the truth is that sharks do not seem to like the taste of humans and attacks are rare. Instead, sharks are curious and sometimes attack a human in the water before realizing that the human wasn’t the tasty seal or other animal that they were hoping to eat. Yikes!
Beautiful sandy beaches are a summertime staple, but the backstory of sand might surprise you. While some grains of sand comes from the breakdown of rocks, sand can also be made up of volcanic materials (black sand beaches) and decaying organisms (pink sand beaches). Perhaps most surprisingly? The stunning white sand beaches of places like Hawaii is largely the result of the excrement of algae-eating parrotfish!
Just over 41% of marine waters are protected by the United States government. Most of these waters are located on the West Coast, while the Pacific Islands (home to one of the world’s largest marine conservation areas) houses the greatest area of marine protected waters.
The octopus is a pretty amazing creature. It has 3 hearts and can have up to 9 brains! They each have a brain for their central nervous systems and a brain to control each of their arms. Their hearts, meanwhile, help circulate blood to the gills and through the rest of the body.
A sea turtle sometimes looks like it’s crying, but it’s actually the body’s way of getting rid of any excess salt. Since sea turtle kidneys aren’t very efficient, glands in each eye of the sea turtle move salt out of the body and into tears.
From crying sea turtles to warm-blooded fish, the ocean is filled with mystery and wonder. Marine scientists get to study that wonder every day. Taking a summer course at Summer Science Academy can help prepare you for your marine studies at McDaniel College. Students who attend a course at SSA are eligible to receive a $40,000 scholarship to McDaniel.