Interesting Facts About the Oceans – Oceans Facts
An ocean is a large body of saline water that composes the majority of the known and unknown universe.
The ocean covers over 70 percent of Earth’s surface, but humans have explored less than five percent of it. The oceans are mainly saltwater, but there is a small amount of freshwater. The difference in salinity has an effect on how far sound and light travel in the ocean and how energy moves through it.
The major oceans (the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic) are divided into sub-regions—these include the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, North Sea and Southern Ocean. There are also several seas that are exclusive to particular countries or territories—for example the Black Sea is shared between Turkey and Russia. The world’s oceans are part of the hydrosphere, along with the rest of the water on Earth.
The majority of the ocean’s volume is deep water, the part that stretches down to 6,000 meters (3.7 miles). The mid-ocean ridge and abyssal plain occupy less than one percent of the total area. The oceans’ deepest point, the Mariana Trench, is 10,994 meters (35,814 feet) below sea level.
Over half of the earth’s crust is made up of igneous rock—which comes from volcanoes that erupt through ocean floors. Coral reefs are located at the bottom of shallow oceans. There are about 200 million tropical coral reefs around the world which cover a combined area of over 300,000 km2.
The Earth has approximately 13 million lakes and almost three billion rivers. Water can be found almost anywhere on Earth. The deepest place in the ocean is Mariana Trench at 10,994 meters (35,814 feet) below sea level.
Facts About the Oceans Part 1
1. The ice in an iceberg is less than 10 percent of its mass.
2. The ocean is about 1,000,000,000 years older than the earth itself (at least 4 billion years old) .
3. The world’s oceans contain 97% of all the water on Earth – make up three-fourths of our planet’s total surface area and hold about 2/3 of Earth’s known living organisms.
4. The Gulf Stream moves at an average speed of 5 to 6 miles per hour, and its total length is 4,000 miles.
5. Because of its high salt content, only 1/5 of ocean water is freshwater which means that there are more than five times as many salts in the ocean than fresh water on earth – about 1 billion tons per day. There are about 55 million tons of dissolved minerals in the ocean and only 35 million tons on land (freshwater).
6. There are more bacteria in a spoonful of seawater than there are people on earth! – 10 Billion (approx. 10+14)
7. In the ocean there are about 1,000 gallons of water per cubic mile. The world’s total supply of freshwater is only about 3% of that amount.
8. There are more species of fish than all other animals combined! – an estimated 300,000 species (100 times more than birds & mammals)
9. The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world’s oceans. It covers about 28% of the earth’s surface, and has an area of 165,000,000 square miles.
10. The deepest spot on earth is in the Pacific Ocean – 35,800 feet down in a spot known as The Mariana Trench (120 miles from Guam at the western end of the Mariana islands)
11. More than half the ocean is over 3 miles deep!
12. The Atlantic is the second-largest ocean with an area of about 106,000,000 square miles.
13. The smallest ocean is the Arctic Ocean (about 39% of the size of the Atlantic). It is so named because with ice cover it is almost totally surrounded by land. In fact, it is covered year-round by sea ice and in most places there are landmasses protruding above the water – Canada, Greenland and Russia are all close to this ocean. There are even a few small islands that appear during summer only because they are covered by shallow water.
14. The average depth of the five oceans is about 2 miles! That is a long way for sunlight to penetrate!
15. It takes sunlight 4 and 1/2 hours to reach 350 feet into the ocean, but more than 4 months to reach 3,000 feet into it. The deepest parts of the ocean floor have never seen direct sunlight! (It also takes light 3 1/2 hours to go from Los Angeles to New York City).
16. The average width of the ocean is about 6 miles.
17. About half of the world’s freshwater is locked up in ice and glaciers, but if all of it were melted, it would only cover the earth with about an inch of water.
18. Due to the Coriolis Effect ocean currents and prevailing winds circulate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere! This effect can also be seen with hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones – anything that moves on a circular path. There is no similar effect on land because there is no constant rotation or force that resembles the Coriolis Effect.
19. The total surface area of the oceans is approximately 361.85 million square kilometers (139.69 million square miles), making it larger than the combined land area of all the continents
20. The oldest oceanic crust (made of basalt rock) is about 40 million years old, whereas the oldest crust not produced by oceanic processes is approximately 3.7 billion years old and originates from continents.
21. Everything living in the ocean is either a fish, an amphibian, a reptile, or a bird.
22. Over 90 percent of all ocean life is microscopic and consists primarily of algae, invertebrates and single-celled plants.
23. The biggest ocean animals are whales weighing up to 135 tons; the smallest are tiny copepods less than 1mm long.
24. There are more than 300 million species living in the oceans. Nobody knows for sure how many there are, but scientists estimate that there could be at least 30 million different kinds.
25. The amount of water that evaporates from the ocean into the air each year is about equal to the amount of rain that falls on land and flows back into the ocean as runoff.
26. In a single day, enough sunlight passes through an area of ocean about half the size of California to meet all of Earth’s energy needs for one year.
27. If all the land in the world were covered with water, the oceans would still be over one mile deep.
28. The amount of life in the ocean is so great that if all of it were collected and placed on dry land, it would weigh more than all of Earth’s plants, fish and people put together.
29. Seawater is about 3.5% salt by weight; compared to freshwater, which is less than 1% salt by weight. This dissolved mineral substance is called “salinity.” It helps to keep sharks from sinking in the sea.
30. The warmest ocean water ever recorded was 89°F (32°C) off the coast of Brazil in 1991.
31. The coldest ocean water ever recorded was -2°F (-19°C) near Antarctica in 1983.
32. Most of the oceans have never been visited by humans.
33. A blue whale is so large that its flukes, or tail fins, can be seen from as far away as 20 miles (32 km).
34. Whales breathe air and get the oxygen they need from it rather than taking it from seawater. They have to come to the surface every so often to get some more.
35. Some kinds of fish use their swim bladders, or air-filled organs, as a way to make sounds.
36. Fish make sounds when they communicate with each other by clicking and grunting. Humpback whales are especially known for producing very loud songs of about 20 minutes in length.
Facts About the Oceans Part 2
Most life on Earth is aquatic
The majority of life on Earth is aquatic. It most prominently includes the oceans, but also involves rivers, lakes and other inland water bodies, as well as the moisture in those environments. This includes bacteria, archaea and other organisms invisible to the naked eye but thriving in extreme conditions such as hot springs.
The seawater contains an estimated biomass of around 1 x 10 kg (the mass equivalent of 4 X 1013 elephants). Microscopic organisms account for more than 80% of this life. The remainder consists of animals (such as fish), fungi and plants including algae. Edible seafood like fish and shellfish are commonly eaten by a large proportion of the world population, especially in East Asia.
The longest mountain range is underwater
The Mid-Oceanic Ridge is a long chain of mountains located in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The mountain range was discovered in the late 1800s when scientists made soundings of the ocean floor. Sounds can travel long distances underwater and they record the top layers of bedrock. The mountain chain, which is about 64,800 kilometers (40,000 miles) long. The Mid-Oceanic Ridge or simply the mid-ocean ridge is a long submarine mountain system that consists of various mountains, ridges and seamounts. The system forms where tectonic plates spread apart at oceanic ridges, and new oceanic crust is formed by volcanic activity. These two tectonic forces work together to produce the longest mountain range on earth.
Great Barrier Reef: ‘The largest living structure on earth’ is located in the Coral Sea
It stretches off the coast of Queensland and covers an area of 344,400 km², growing at a rate of up to half a centimeter each year. The Great Barrier Reef is comprised of around 3,000 reefs and 900 islands. It houses more than 1,500 species of fish, 400 types of hard coral and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins. There are over 1,500 species in total including lizardfish, starfish and seahorses that call it home. The reef is also home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle and the dugong, a rare mammal that is found only in north-western parts of Australia.
It consists of hundreds of coral reefs, 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs stretching for more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 mi), covering an area larger than Germany and Spain combined.
Certain species of coral have their own sunscreen
Too much sunlight can damage the algae that build coral reefs, but a certain species of coral have their own natural protection that’s act like a sunscreen. Researchers have found that the coral, Favia fragum, have a natural sunscreen that protects them from the Sun.
The researchers took coral samples and exposed them to three different levels of ultraviolet light: 100 percent, 50 percent, and 2.2 percent of light we might experience on Earth. The coral was found to be most resistant when exposed to the UV light at the Earth’s surface.
The researchers hope that by studying these animals they can create a sunscreen for humans using a similar structure and chemical make-up.
Most volcanic activity occurs in the oceans
Since 2.3 billion years ago, 90% (230 million square kilometers) of all volcanic activity on Earth took place in oceans and only 10% on land, according to the study. This means that land is not an important spot for volcanic activity and that scientists might have focused too much on this aspect.
How dependent are we really on our oceans?
The oceans provide us with a massive number of resources and contribute immensely to the quality of our lives. They are used for a variety of things from food production to recreation and employment but how much do we really need them? Do we depend on the oceans or could we exist without them? Yes we definitely do need and depend on the oceans; here are six reasons why.
1) Food supply [to whom?] The seafood industry is responsible for millions of jobs worldwide and produces millions of tonnes of seafood every year. The oceans provide us with fish, oysters, and other produce that are not only in high demand but also have many health benefits. For example, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Our oceans are also home to a variety of crustaceans such as prawns and crabs which are sought after for their delicious taste as well as their health properties.
2) Employment [to whom?] The seafood industry is not the only way that individuals make money from our oceans. Millions of dollars are made through tourism each year through activities such as scuba diving or surfing on world-famous beaches. The industry itself directly employs many people in jobs like fishing and boat building, but it also provides indirect employment through the provision of accommodation, food, and transport for those who don’t live near the coast.
3) Transportation [to whom?] The oceans provide us with a means of transportation which is both fast and reliable. The shipping industry is one of the largest in the world and many people make their living from transporting goods on ships. While traveling by sea might not be as fast as flying it is much more practical due to its reliability and low costs. There are also other forms of transportation such as commercial fishing vessels, leisure boats, surfboards etc. all depending on the oceans for their travels.
4) Water supply [of what?] The oceans provide most of the world’s water supply. The largest amount of water on Earth is in the oceans together with Greenland and Antarctica. This water accounts for 97% of all water on Earth. Even though this might not be a direct need, we could still not survive without it as it helps to keep our planet balanced and at its natural temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. It also regulates the climate by acting as a source and absorbent which helps to regulate pressure, wind speed, humidity and rainfall levels. Without this balance the world would be much hotter or colder than it is now; either way there would not be enough life left to sustain us.
5) A Natural Resource [of what?] The oceans are a natural resource that has been around for millions of years. They have been able to adapt to the changes in the earth and are still providing us with many things today.