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Ask a Scientist: All About Amazing Oceans

By November 23, 2023June 2nd, 2024No Comments

Ever wonder why the oceans are salty? Or what’s so special about coral reefs? Or what the most dangerous animal in the ocean is? As part of our Kitchen table STEAM program, we had a chance to collect and answer questions from kids across the world with our Oceanographer – Sandra Turner of UC Riverside.

“Ask a Scientist… Anything!” Submissions for Amazing Ocean Chats!


Catch the replay here of our November Ask a Scientist event with Sandra Turner, as she takes on your questions about oceans. And don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for upcoming events!


Why does the ocean make big waves?

There’s a lot of different kinds of things that cause waves in the ocean, but most of the waves in the ocean are caused by wind and every wave starts out tiny. Imagine just like ripples in a pond but if the wind grows, if the wind keeps blowing for long enough and in the same direction especially for a long time, those waves can just add up and become bigger and bigger and bigger until you get really really large wind waves. The other things that can cause really big waves in the oceans are earthquakes. So you might have heard of a kind of wave called a tsunami and those are waves that happen when the actual seafloor itself raises and then lowers. And it generates massive waves that way that can be really destructive when they hit land. The biggest wave of all is actually something that happens every single day and those are waves that are called the tides. Those are caused mostly by the gravity between the earth and the moon and the earth and the sun.

Why are the oceans salty?

There are many different kinds of salts in the oceans and sometimes we think of just table salt. All of those salts ultimately come from the solid earth so they either come from rocks on land or they come from the seafloor and are delivered to the oceans. It’s because superheated magma from inside the earth is rising and interacting with the rocks on the seafloor and that’s adding salt to the ocean. Most of the salt is sodium chloride that you find in normal table salt but there are also things like magnesium, potassium, calcium carbonate, and sulfate and these are other kinds of salts that we find in the oceans.

Why are oceans blue?

The oceans are blue because that’s the color that gets reflected out of white light and all of the other colors get absorbed.

How do animals survive during hurricanes and what happens when there’s no doctor in the ocean?

If you’ve ever been at the beach and you were trying to get out past the waves right if you’re standing up and the wave hits you, you kind of fly all over the place. But if you dive beneath the wave you don’t move around as much and you can get out past the wave break much easier. What you’re experiencing when you see that is how you lose the energy of the wave as you go deeper and deeper beneath the ocean surface. That’s basically a way of saying that you could have crazy weather going on up at the surface but if things are diving deeper down they’re not experiencing a lot of that same destructive power.

Why is the ocean so big and how deep is the ocean?

The ocean cover is about 70 percent of the surface of our planet so most of the earth is the ocean. The oceans are just filling in all of the low areas on our planet’s surface. The average depth of the ocean is about two and a half miles deep and the deepest spots on the ocean are deeper than the tallest spots on land so the Marianas trench in the pacific ocean is deeper than Mount Everest. That’s almost 12 miles deep.

Just like every other kid who loves the oceans, Sandra developed her passion since she was a little kid. She spent her summer going to the beach in Avalon New Jersey and from those days, she loved the beach and the ocean. So keep everything you are doing and be the next generation of Environmental Leaders. Join our growing community of hands-on learning enthusiasts today and get learning delivered to your door – and special opportunities like these delivered to your inbox!

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