Each year, many families look forward to their summer vacations spent at the beach. According to a 2016 study, nearly 80% of U.S. parents reported they had taken a beach vacation in the past, so plenty of people know about the relaxing properties behind a seaside getaway. Whether you’re laying out and soaking up the sun on a sizzling summer day or cooling off in the ocean, we all can agree the beach is the place to be. Before your next family vacation, impress the kids with some fun and exciting beach facts to keep everyone’s brain active, even when you’re in vacation mode.
One of the best parts about a hot beach day is cooling off in the ocean. Whether you’re wading in the water, looking for shells as the tides pull back or prefer to ride the waves in on a boogie board, everyone loves spending time in the ocean. For many children and even plenty of adults, the sea is a vast, wondrous place, filled with extraordinary creatures and plenty of mystery. Become a pro with the following cool ocean facts before your next family trip to the beach.
On Earth, there is far more ocean than there is land, but how big are the world’s oceans? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oceans make up 97% of our planet’s water and more than 70% of Earth’s surface. The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean, accounting for more than 30% of the Earth’s surface. However, when you take a dip on your vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey, you’re in the world’s second-largest ocean — the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean covers about 20% of Earth’s surface and spans an area roughly 41 million square miles.
You’re probably familiar with some marine wildlife, such as the bottlenose dolphin or the horseshoe crab, but do you know precisely how many different creatures live in the ocean? That’s OK — neither do scientists. With how enormous the world’s oceans are, it’s incredibly challenging to count just how many different species call the ocean home, which is why there aren’t any final numbers on this matter. However, scientists estimate 91% of species in the ocean remain unclassified, as 95% of it is unexplored.
On your next beach trip, keep your eyes peeled for these sea creatures known to make an appearance along New Jersey’s beaches:
The ocean is a crucial player when it comes to climate, as it stores solar radiation and distributes heat and moisture all over the world. Since seawater absorbs radiation from the sun, it works to keep the planet warm, especially in areas around the equator. During evaporation, the ocean works to increase the humidity and temperature of the surrounding air, creating storms and rain. The majority of rainfall on land almost always starts in the sea.
However, ocean currents also drive weather patterns outside of equatorial areas. Surface winds, combined with temperature, salinity gradients, Earth’s rotation and tides, all work together to create these currents, which usually flow clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise down south. Currents move warm water and precipitation toward the poles from the equator and move cold water to the tropics from the poles. In this way, currents help regulate weather and climate around the world and work to keep temperatures under control and the planet habitable.
As the world’s population continues to grow and use more energy, the ocean is feeling the effects. Carbon dioxide levels are higher than ever, which has impacted the ocean’s chemistry — specifically its acidity. For example, greenhouse gases have increased by 30% in the last 150 years, which has caused a significant increase in Earth’s temperature. The ocean absorbs more than 25% of the carbon dioxide people put into the air, helping regulate climate. Still, it will be an increasing challenge to keep up with these rising carbon dioxide levels as the planet continues to warm.
So, what does this mean? Without proper adaptation to these new temperatures, living species could disappear, as some of the ocean’s animals need less acidic seawater to survive and build their protective shells or skeletons. Seawater also expands as it gets warmer, contributing to the issue of rising sea levels, along with melting glaciers. Scientists predict sea level to rise by three feet within the next 100 years, which could have a severe impact on coastlines and cause more coastal flooding when it storms.
As a kid, it’s hard to imagine reaching the bottom of a 12-foot swimming pool, let alone the bottom of the ocean — especially when it’s miles deep. On average, the ocean is 2.3 miles, or roughly 12,000 feet, deep. However, since the bottom of the sea isn’t the same throughout, water depths can vary greatly. The deepest part of the ocean is underneath the western Pacific Ocean in the southern end of the Mariana Trench, known as Challenger Deep. Challenger Deep reaches about 36,200 feet below the surface.
Scientists use satellite measurements to help determine ocean depth, looking at any changes in features, such as a mountain on the ocean’s floor. However, these depth numbers are estimates, as scientists need to use high-resolution seafloor mapping to analyze the satellite data. Right now, scientists have mapped only about 10% of the ocean floor in high resolution.
When you go to the beach, you’re not just sleeping on the sand the whole time — there’s plenty of things to do, see and learn. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about travel, entertainment and other fascinating facts about Ocean City before your next summer getaway.
If you’re looking for something to do after a laid-back day of lounging on the beach, look no further than the Boardwalk. Boardwalks are excellent sources of entertainment for the whole family, found at many beaches across the country and around the world. When you explore Ocean City, New Jersey’s Boardwalk, you’re walking on the best Boardwalk in the state. The 2.5-mile-long strip is sure to keep you occupied with plenty of unique shops, amusements and various delicious dining options for everyone to enjoy. Plus, OCNJ is a dry town, making it the ideal spot for quality family fun.
The travel and tourism industry in the U.S. is booming. In 2018 alone, travel and tourism accounted for just over $1 trillion. After all, who doesn’t love going on vacation? About four in 10 U.S. adults, or 100 million Americans, were planning to take a family vacation in 2019, according to AAA. The travel industry accounts for both domestic and international travelers, but in-country travel spending makes up most of this spending at about 80%.
The industry doesn’t only help boost gross domestic product, but also creates jobs — it contributed to about 5.29 million jobs alone in 2017. Where do most Americans want to go on vacation? According to a 2017 study of U.S. adults, more than half said they’d prefer a beach getaway — the most popular type of vacation — over other places to go. When you visit Ocean City, New Jersey, you’re contributing to the state’s tourism earnings, which usually exceed $16 billion each year.
While some beaches in the state are free to visit, other New Jersey beaches have a longstanding tradition of requiring beach tags to get in. It all started with Bradley Beach in 1929, and other beaches followed suit shortly after. New Jersey passed a law in 1955 saying that towns “bordering the Atlantic Ocean, tidal water bays or rivers” could charge beach visitors “…to account for maintenance and safety costs associated with them.” Beach tags are how the state covers costs like police protection, employing lifeguards and keeping beaches clean.
Beach tag prices vary widely all over the state. While some New Jersey beaches like Ocean City will bring in millions each year, others make less than $100,000. In 2016, Ocean City brought in the most beach tag revenue, earning more than $4 million. Ocean City rolled out beach tags in 1976, and currently requires everyone 12 and older to have one while visiting the beach during the summer. Beach tags for 2020 are in effect from June 6 to Sept. 7, and seasonal tags are available now for $20 through mail or online, but you must buy yours by May 31, 2020. Weekly and daily tags will be available at a later date. Forging or creating counterfeit beach tags is a third-degree crime, and the city will prosecute people who do so.
Just a little over 30 miles from OCNJ in Cape May sits the country’s oldest seaside hotel: Congress Hall. Originally built in 1816 by Thomas Hughes, it was first known as the “Big House,” as it was one of the largest hotels in America when it opened. Hughes officially changed the name of the hotel to Congress Hall after he joined the House of Representatives in 1828.
People came from around the country to Cape May to visit the beach and experience the hotel, which is in the center of Cape May’s historic district. The hotel hosted many historic events, such as women’s suffrage rallies. The hotel then went through two extreme fires before getting rebuilt and reopened, was closed again for more than a decade and reopened again in 1920. Even today, Congress Hall continues to be a popular destination for visitors from all over the country.
Everyone’s happier when they’re on vacation, but beachgoers in Ocean City, New Jersey, are the happiest. In 2018, Coastal Living named OCNJ “America’s Happiest Seaside Town,” a title the town still holds. Coastal Living cited its family-friendly vibe, beautiful white beaches and the charming Residential Historic District as excellent reasons to visit. Ocean City has also won numerous other awards, including New Jersey’s Favorite Beach in 2019.
For more than 100 years, people all over the world have enjoyed visiting the beach. Ocean City, for example, incorporated as a city in the late 19th century. What started as a Native American summer fishing camp and cattle-grazing area has since turned into a popular tourist attraction, bringing in nearly a million visitors during peak season. Before your next trip, review these few final tips to become a seaside savant.
Walking along the beach is a perfect way to unwind and enjoy the scenic views. However, you eventually must decide to turn around and start walking back, since some beaches span for miles and miles. The world’s longest beach, the Praia do Cassino Beach in Brazil, is 150 miles long. The beach goes from the Rio Grande to the border with Uruguay. In comparison, Ocean City’s beaches account for nearly eight miles of beachfront along New Jersey’s 127-mile long coastline.
While you’re probably used to tan or even whitish sand when you visit a beach, you have probably never experienced a pink or black sand beach in person. Sand comes from all over different environments, sources and locations, so beaches around the world can have different-colored sands. Sand forms when rocks erode over thousands, or even millions, of years. Rock decomposition can take a long time, and rocks usually start very far away from the ocean, breaking down along streams and rivers. After they finally reach the sea, the waves and tides cause even more erosion.
Eroded materials can have a major influence on sand color. For instance, the tan color of sand comes from iron oxide and feldspar, which are light brown and brown to tan. Black sand is a result of eroded material from volcanoes, like lava, basalt rocks or other minerals. However, living things can also affect sand color. For example, Bermuda’s pink sand is from decaying foraminifera, a single-celled, shelled organism. Byproducts of living things can even change sand color. Some pure white sand beaches come from parrotfish poop, as these fish bite algae off rocks and dead corals before they grind up the inedible reef materials in their guts and pass it in the form of sand.
Sand buckets and mini shovels are always essentials for a day on the beach to construct a majestic sandcastle. The current Guinness World Record holder for the largest sandcastle ever built stood 57 feet and 11 inches tall. The sandcastle, constructed in Germany in June 2019, took 12 sculptors and eight technicians working eight hours a day for three and a half weeks. While you’re probably not planning on building anything that big, you can get building and work on fine-tuning your skills on smaller projects. You could even test your sandcastle skills by entering in one of Ocean City’s sand sculpting contests.
Now that you and your family know how incredible the beach is, don’t wait to start planning your next family vacation to Ocean City, New Jersey. Whether you want to take a dip in the vast Atlantic Ocean, build some sandcastles or check out historical sites, you’ll never be bored at the beach! We invite you to see for yourself why OCNJ is the perfect place to take your next beach family vacation and book your visit today. For any additional questions about your upcoming trip, feel free to contact us.