Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


About 70% of our planet is covered by sea water. In fact, the name “Earth” is a misleading one, as there is more water than land!  Water found on land is known as fresh water but water found surrounding land is salty water and can be divided into seas and oceans.  Seas are the parts of the oceans close to, or partly enclosed by land.  Oceans are much larger expanses of water.  There are five oceans on earth: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic oceans.

The temperature of the sea varies according to its location in the world. Seas at the North or South Poles may be as cold as -38oC, whilst those nearest to the Equator may be as hot as 40oC.

Ocean, Photo (c) vnhelen


The rise and fall of the water in the seas and oceans is known as the tide.  Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun.  The surface of the water is also moved by wind causing waves.  The point where the land meets the sea is called the ‘coastline’ and the area of land over which the tide moves the water back and forth is called the ‘shoreline’.



Waste Ground

The Oceans are so big, many people mistakenly think the things that they dump there will just disappear and cause no problems.  There is, however, evidence that the water and fish contain high levels of pollution, meaning some of the fish humans eat may be polluted too.

Fishing & Hunting

People have been fishing in the oceans for centuries but, with new fishing techniques and more people to feed, fish populations are in decline worldwide.  In some cases, mammals, such as dolphins, orca, seals and otters and other sea creatures, such as turtles, are caught in fishing nets, often drowning because they cannot get to the surface for air.  Hunting for whales, seals and turtles still continues around the world for their meat, fur and shells respectively.  Many species are now protected and should not be hunted at all, whereas some whales continue to be hunted for ‘scientific purposes’.


Tourists buy huge numbers of tortoise shells, corals and dried seahorses every year as souvenirs of their holiday.  These souvenirs are harming fragile environments, such as the coral reefs and seahorse numbers, in particular, are dropping in the wild.

Minerals and Oil/Gas

The seas provide about 20% of the world’s gas and oil.  Oil is particularly useful as it can be used to make petrol, plastic and dyes.  But of course, there are oil spills which damage huge areas of ocean habitat and plastic which take a very long time to break down and trap and kill many marine mammals.  Minerals such as salt, gold, diamonds and copper are mined from vast seabed.


  • Avoid buying shells, seahorses or coral on holiday
  • Don’t touch coral if you go snorkelling or diving
  • Try to buy only tuna with a dolphin friendly label. This means the nets used do not kill dolphins.
  • Look for the Marine Stewardship Council logo (image) on fish packaging before buying it
  • Remember that the sea is not a dumping ground. What we do to it may eventually have an effect on us.
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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