- NOAA Education Resources: Ocean and Coasts Theme Homepage
The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contains 97 percent of the planet's water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored. The ocean and large inland lakes play an integral role in many of the Earth's systems including climate and weather. More than 50% of all species on Earth are found under the ocean and the ocean helps sustain human life above the water by providing 20 percent of the animal protein and five percent of the total protein in the human diet. In the US alone, there are over 95,000 miles of shoreline. More than half of the US population lives within 50 miles of the coast in the narrow area of land known as the "coastal zone."
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