Fun fact: How “wild” are Earth’s oceans?


Often when we imagine the wilderness, we imagine impenetrable forests and jungles. But with oceans covering around 70% of Earth’s surface, have you ever thought about our oceans being areas of wilderness? And if we think about oceans in that way, how much of our oceans are have avoided human influence and are still in a state of wilderness?


A team of researchers set out to answer that question. They found that areas of wilderness occupy only around 13% of Earth’s oceans. These areas have avoided stressors like pollution, fishing, and shipping, and are typically located in the Arctic or Pacific regions. Interestingly, 25% of the ocean in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is classed as wilderness.

Map of wilderness in oceans

The Location and Protection Status of Earth’s Diminishing Marine Wilderness. K. R. Jones et al. Current Biology 28 (15) 2018.