Interesting Ocean Facts
global ocean is one vast connected body of water….
Continents separate areas of the ocean, so we divide the ocean into parts.
The three major oceans are (in order of size): the Pacific Ocean, the
Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. We further break down
these major parts as follows:
Photo by Jason Wright
Each ocean consists of smaller bodies of water we call seas, gulfs and bays.
Each of these is a body of water within one of the major oceans.
TRIBUTARY SEAS, GULFS AND BAYS
Andaman Sea Caribbean Sea Gulf of California Persian Gulf
Arabian Sea Celebes Sea Gulf of Guinea Red Sea
Arafura Sea Ceram Sea Gulf of Mexico Ross Sea
Baffin Bay Chukchi Sea Gulf of Saint Lawrence Savu Sea
Bali Sea Coral Sea Hudson Bay Sea of Japan
Baltic Sea East China Sea Kara Sea Sea of Okhotsk
Banda Sea East Siberian Sea Laptev Sea South China Sea
Barents Sea Flores Sea Macassar Strait Sulu Sea
Bay of Bengal Great Australian Bight Mediterranean Sea Tasman Sea
Beaufort Sea Greenland Sea Molukka Sea Timor Sea
Bering Sea Gulf of Aden North Sea White Sea
Black Sea Gulf of Alaska Norwegian Sea Yellow Sea
* There is discrepancy among geographers regarding the Antarctic Ocean.
Some recognize it, but most consider those waters within the boundaries of
the South Pacific, which has its northern boundaries at the equator and
southern boundaries at the coast of Antarctica.
More Fascinating Facts
Area: about 140 million square miles (362 million sq km), or nearly 71% of
the Earth's surface.
Average Depth: 12,200 feet (3,720 m).
Deepest point: 36,198 feet (11,033 m) in the Mariana Trench in the western
Mountains: The ocean ridges form a great mountain range, almost 40,000 miles
(64,000 km) long, that weaves its way through all the major oceans. It is
the largest single feature on Earth.
Highest Mountain: Mauna Kea, Hawaii, rises 33,474 feet (10,203 m) from its
base on the ocean floor; only 13,680 feet (4,170 m) are above sea level.
48 more facts about our oceans...
1. The oceans occupy nearly 71% of our planet's surface.
2. More than 97% of all our planet's water is contained in the ocean.
3. The top ten feet of the ocean hold as much heat as our entire atmosphere.
4. The average depth of the ocean is more than 2.5 miles.
5. The oceans provide 99 percent of the Earth's living space- the largest
space in our universe known to be inhabited by living organisms.
6. More than 90% of this habitat exists in the deep sea known as the abyss.
7. Less than 10% of this living space has been explored by humans.
8. Mount Everest (the highest point on the Earth's surface 5.49 miles) is
more than 1 mile shorter than the Challenger Deep (the deepest point in the
ocean at 6.86 miles).
9. The longest continuous mountain chain known to exist in the Universe
resides in the ocean at more than 40,000 miles long.
10. The Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon is deeper and larger in volume than
the Grand Canyon.
11. The Antarctic ice sheet that forms and melts over the ocean each year is
nearly twice the size of the United States.
12. The average temperature of the oceans is 2ºC, about 39ºF.
13. Water pressure at the deepest point in the ocean is more than 8 tons per
square inch, the equivalent of one person trying to hold 50 jumbo jets.
14. The Gulf Stream off the Atlantic seaboard of the United States flows at
a rate nearly 300 times faster than the typical flow of the Amazon river,
the world's largest river.
15. The worlds oceans contain nearly 20 million tons of gold.
16. The color blue is least absorbed by seawater; the same shade of blue is
most absorbed by microscopic plants, called phytoplankton, drifting in
17. A new form of life, based on chemical energy rather than light energy,
resides in deep-sea hydrothermal vents along mid-ocean ridges.
18. A swallow of seawater may contain millions of bacterial cells, hundreds
of thousands of phytoplankton and tens of thousands of zooplankton.
19. The blue whale, the largest animal on our planet ever (exceeding the
size of the greatest dinosaurs) still lives in the ocean; it's heart is the
size of a Volkswagen.
20. The gray whale migrates more than 10,000 miles each year, the longest
migration of any mammal.
21. The Great Barrier Reef, measuring 1,243 miles, is the largest living
structure on Earth. It can be seen from the Moon.
22. More than 90 percent of the trade between countries is carried by ships
and about half the communications between nations use underwater cables.
23. More oil reaches the oceans each year as a result of leaking automobiles
and other non-point sources than was spilled in Prince William Sound by the
24. Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world's protein consumed by
25. Most of the world's major fisheries are being fished at levels above
their maximum sustainable yield; some regions are severely overfished.
26. The Grand Banks, the pride of New England fishing for centuries, are
closed due to overfishing.
27. Eighty per cent of all pollution in seas and oceans comes from
28. Three-quarters of the world's mega-cities are by the sea.
29. By 2010, 80 per cent of people will live within 60 miles of the coast.
30. Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global
economy US$12.8 billion a year. The annual economic impact of hepatitis from
tainted seafood alone is US$7.2 billion.
31. Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and
countless fish each year. Plastic remains in our ecosystem for years harming
thousands of sea creatures everyday.
32. Over the past decade, an average of 600,000 barrels of oil a year has
been accidentally spilled from ships, the equivalent of 12 disasters the
size of the sinking of the oil tanker Prestige in 2002.
33. Tropical coral reefs border the shores of 109 countries, the majority of
which are among the world's least developed. Significant reef degradation
has occurred in 93 countries.
34. Although coral reefs comprise less than 0.5 per cent of the ocean floor,
it is estimated that more than 90 per cent of marine species are directly or
indirectly dependent on them.
35. There are about 4,000 coral reef fish species worldwide, accounting for
approximately a quarter of all marine fish species.
36. Nearly 60 per cent of the world's remaining reefs are at significant
risk of being lost in the next three decades.
37. The major causes of coral reef decline are coastal development,
sedimentation, destructive fishing practices, pollution, tourism and global
38. Less than one half a per cent of marine habitats are protected --
compared with 11.5 per cent of global land area.
39. The High Seas -- areas of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction --
cover almost 50 per cent of the Earth's surface. They are the least
protected part of the world.
40. Although there are some treaties that protect ocean-going species such
as whales, as well as some fisheries agreements, there are no protected
areas in the High Seas.
41. Studies show that protecting critical marine habitats -- such as
warm-and cold-water coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves -- can
dramatically increase fish size and quantity.
42. More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary
source of food. In 20 years, this number could double to 7 billion.
43. Populations of commercially attractive large fish, such as tuna, cod,
swordfish and marlin have declined by as much as 90 per cent in the past
44. Each year, illegal longline fishing, which involves lines up to 80 miles
long, with thousands of baited hooks, kills over 300,000 seabirds, including
45. As many as 100 million sharks are killed each year for their meat and
fins, which are used for shark fin soup. Hunters typically catch the sharks,
de-fin them while alive and throw them back into the ocean where they either
drown or bleed to death.
46. Global by-catch -- unintended destruction caused by the use of
non-selective fishing gear, such as trawl nets, longlines and gillnets --
amounts to 20 million tons a year.
47. The annual global by-catch mortality of small whales, dolphins and
porpoises alone is estimated to be more than 300,000 individuals.
48. Fishing for wild shrimp represents 2 per cent of global seafood but
one-third of total by-catch. The ratio of by-catch from shrimp fishing
ranges from 5:1 in temperate zones to 10:1 and more in the tropics.