Life on Earth depends on the ocean.
The ocean is part of our lives – we may swim in it, sail on it or eat food from it. Even if we don't live by the ocean, it affects us all because it:
Many people think of the sea floor as flat, but the sea bed has different landscapes just like we see on land. Hidden below the ocean are mountains, volcanoes, trenches, canyons, valleys and plains. This variety of landscapes supports many different marine organisms.
Our big blue backyard
New Zealand is surrounded by the sea. The sea is our treasure/taonga. More than 75% of New Zealanders live within 10 km of the coast. Even if you live inland you are never further than a couple of hours drive from the sea.
We use the sea for recreation, gathering food and other resources, and for our own wellbeing.
Our marine diversity
New Zealand's marine environment has a wide range of different plants and animals because:
- It covers a wide area from subtropical to subantarctic
- It sits above an active plate boundary
- It is a long way away from other countries.
This means New Zealand has lots of different marine habitats and species. Our marine areas are not well studied. Less than 1% of our marine areas have been surveyed. More than 15,000 species have been found, and on average 7 new marine species are identified every two weeks. Scientists estimate that there may be as many as 65,000 marine species in New Zealand waters. Because we are a long way from other countries many of these species are endemic, which means they are not found anywhere else in the world.