Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day.
More than 50 percent of the U.S.'s population lives and works within 50 miles of the coastline. Yet coastal areas account for only 11 percent of the nation's land area.
An acre of coastal waters or wetlands can produce more food than the best Midwestern farm land.
Commercial and recreational fisheries support more than 1.3 million jobs, and in 1995 added more than $20 billion to the gross domestic product.
80 percent of pollution to the fragile, finite marine environment comes from land-based sources, such as runoff pollution. Runoff pollution includes many small sources, like septic tanks, cars, trucks and boats, plus larger sources, such as farms, ranches and forest areas.
Millions of motor vehicle engines make daily, one-drop- at-a-time oil spills onto roads and parking lots, adding significantly to runoff pollution.
About 180 million people visit U.S. coastlines each year.
Two hundred million years of geologic and biological history are recorded on the ocean's floor.
Courtesy of NOAA.