Salt in the Ocean

DSC_0035sigYesterday, I looked at a photo I had taken while spending a little time on the Gulf of Mexico. The water of the waves was suspended by a fast shutter. I began to think about the salty water of the oceans.

I like questions, I am a teacher. Teachers ask questions. I have three.  Not to worry, I will give you the answer to each. First question: What has no beginning, no middle and no end yet touches every continent? Answer, the ocean.

Second question: Why is the ocean salty? There is a quick answer to this question. Salt in oceans comes from salt in the rocks of the earth. Human and animal respiration produce carbon dioxide in the air. When rain falls some CO2 becomes dissolved the rain which falls. This makes rainwater slightly acidic. This is a natural process and has occurred for millennia. It dissolves rocks in unnoticeable amounts with each rainfall. This general erosion of rocks releases the salts and minerals of rocks into ions that are carried with water runoff into lakes and rivers. While lakes are replenished with fresh water, the continual drainage of rivers increases the salt content of oceans. In addition to rivers carrying salt-laden water into them, the oceans also have vents and volcanoes which continually release small amounts of salt. Salt in the ocean comes from below too, below and within.

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Last question, how salty is the ocean? Again, a quick answer. The salt ratio in saltwater is about 35 parts per thousand. Another way of understanding this amount is 3.5%. The two ions that make up the salt are sodium and chloride. Here is a fact for us. In a cubic mile (1 mile wide, 1 mile deep, I mile high-a LOT of water) there are 120 million tons of sodium chloride. This came from the rocks of the earth! Here is another fact that makes the amount of sodium chloride seem less impressive: in the different cubic mile, all the people who live on the earth would fit in the same sized space. That is a surprising perspective.DSC_0149sig

Now for something that stuns me. I share it because perhaps it will amaze you as well. Billions of plants and animals live in the world’s oceans. All live-in water that has a concentration of 3.5% salt. Humans will die if too much salt water is consumed. Human kidneys cannot eliminate a concentration of salt at even this low-level. Dehydration results and death follows. Billions of plants and animals can. Amazing.

One last question. You may have expected it. How does this saltwater in world oceans not cause huge problems? The answer is equally amazing, God created the seas and all that lives in them.  “… God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:21) Perhaps some would say, “David, always saying God did it is a dodge. It’s too simple, there is no science in this. This link contains a great deal of material about who God is-but it gives the answer. Read a bit of it. Now, is there anything too difficult for an all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present God? No. Nothing-ever. Zero-always, eternally.

Look at the oceans, see the hand of the One who made them. Examine the waves of the sea in the photos, there is salt in them all. Salt in the oceans can be traced to God.

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Author: davidwellis

Being a grandfather, husband, former public school teacher and Education Specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service provide me with many life perspectives. Being a naturalist with a camera puts me outside. Trusting God and seeking His direction guides my words, and photos. We live in a magnificent world, come and look at it with me through my eyes, lens and words. To God be the glory. Enjoy the Cedar Waxwings being used for the current profile photo!