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 Pacific.
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
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
The oceans occupy nearly 71%
of our planet's surface
More than 97% of all our
planet's water is contained in the ocean
The top ten feet of the
ocean hold as much heat as our entire atmosphere
The average depth of the
ocean is more than 2.5 miles
The oceans provide 99
percent of the Earth's living space- the largest space in our universe
known to be inhabited by living organisms
More than 90% of this
habitat exists in the deep sea known as the abyss
Less than 10% of this living
space has been explored by humans
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)
The longest continuous
mountain chain known to exist in the Universe resides in the ocean at more
than 40,000 miles long
The Monterey Bay Submarine
Canyon is deeper and larger in volume than the Grand Canyon
The Antarctic ice sheet that
forms and melts over the ocean each year is nearly twice the size of the
The average temperature of
the oceans is 2ºC, about 39ºF
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.
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
The worlds oceans contain
nearly 20 million tons of gold
The color blue is least
absorbed by seawater; the same shade of blue is most absorbed by
microscopic plants, called phytoplankton, drifting in seawater
A new form of life, based on
chemical energy rather than light energy, resides in deep-sea hydrothermal
vents along mid-ocean ridges
A swallow of seawater may
contain millions of bacterial cells, hundreds of thousands of
phytoplankton and tens of thousands of zooplankton
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
The gray whale migrates more
than 10,000 miles each year, the longest migration of any mammal
The Great Barrier Reef,
measuring 1,243 miles, is the largest living structure on Earth. It can be
seen from the Moon.
More than 90 percent of the
trade between countries is carried by ships and about half the
communications between nations use underwater cables
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 Exxon
Fish supply the greatest
percentage of the world's protein consumed by humans
Most of the world's major
fisheries are being fished at levels above their maximum sustainable
yield; some regions are severely overfished
The Grand Banks, the pride
of New England fishing for centuries, are closed due to overfishing
- Eighty per cent of all pollution in seas
and oceans comes from land-based activities.
- Three-quarters of the world's
are by the sea.
- By 2010, 80 per cent of people will live
within 60 miles of the coast.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- There are about 4,000 coral reef fish
species worldwide, accounting for approximately a quarter of all marine
- Nearly 60 per cent of the world's
remaining reefs are at significant risk of being lost in the next three
- The major causes of coral reef decline are
coastal development, sedimentation, destructive fishing practices,
pollution, tourism and global warming.
- Less than one half a per cent of marine
habitats are protected -- compared with 11.5 per cent of global land area.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 century.
- Each year, illegal longline fishing, which
involves lines up to 80 miles long, with thousands of baited hooks, kills
over 300,000 seabirds, including 100,000 albatrosses.
- 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.
- 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.
- The annual global by-catch mortality of
small whales, dolphins and porpoises alone is estimated to be more than
- 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.
The total length of the
world's coastlines is about 315,000 miles, enough to circle the Equator 12
As coastal zones become more and more crowded, the
quality of coastal water will suffer, the wildlife will be displaced, and
the shorelines will erode. 60% of the Pacific and 35% of the Atlantic
Coast shoreline are eroding at a rate of a meter every year.
More than half the world’s population live within a
100 km or 60 miles distance from the coast. This is more than 2.7 billion
people. Rapid urbanization will lead to more coastal mega-cities containing
10 million or more people. By the end of the millennium 13 out of 15 of
the world’s largest cities will be located on or near the coast. Growing
population in coastal areas leads to more marine pollution and
distribution of coastal habitats. Some 6,5 million tons (6,500,000,000
kilo) of litter finds its way into the sea each year.
one-half of all Americans live in coastal counties).
provides the biggest source of wild or domestic protein in the world. Each
year some 70 to 75 million tons of fish are caught in the ocean. Of this
amount around 29 million tons is for human consumption. The global fish
production exceeds that of cattle, sheep, poultry or eggs. Fish can be
produced in two ways: by capture and by aqua culture. The total production
has grown 34% over the last decade.
The largest numbers of fish are
located in the Southern Hemisphere due to the fact that these waters are
not largely exploited by man.
Fifteen out of seventeen of the world's
largest fisheries are so heavily exploited that the reproduction can't
keep up. With the result that many fish populations are decreasing
Species of fish endangered by overfishing are: tuna, salmon,
haddock, halibut, and cod.
In the 19th century, codfish weighing up
to 200 pounds used to be caught. Nowadays, a 40 pound cod is considered a
giant. Reason: overfishing.
Rising Sea Level
The sea level has risen with an average of
4-10 inches (10 to 25 cm) over the past 100 years and scientists expect
this rate to increase. Sea levels will continue rising even if the climate
has stabilized, because the ocean reacts slowly to changes.
years ago the ocean level was about 330 ft (110 mtr) lower than it is
If all the world's ice melted, the oceans would rise 200 ft (66
90% of all volcanic activity on Earth occurs
in the ocean. The largest known concentration of active volcanoes
(approximately 1,133) on the sea floor is located in the South Pacific
The density of ocean water varies. It becomes more
dense as it becomes colder, right down to its freezing point of -1.9
degrees C. (This is unlike fresh water, which is most dense at 4
degrees C, well above its freezing point.)
Under the enormous pressures of the deep
ocean, sea water can reach very high temperatures without boiling. A water
temperature of 400 degrees C has been measured at one hydrothermal
The average temperature of all ocean water is about 3.5°
Almost all of the deep ocean temperatures are only a little warmer
than freezing (39°F).
Antarctica has as much ice as the Atlantic
Ocean has water.
10% of the earth's surface is covered with ice.
The Arctic Ocean is the smallest ocean, holding only one percent of the
Earth's seawater. This is still more than 25 times as much water as all
rivers and fresh water lakes.
The average thickness of the Arctic ice
sheet is about 9 to 10 feet, although there are some areas as thick as 65
In the unlikely event that all the polar ice were to melt, the
sea level all over the world would rise 500 to 600 feet. As a result, 85
to 90% of the Earth's surface would be covered with water as compared to
the current 71%. The U.S. would be split by the Mississippi Sea, which
would connect the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico.
produces 10,000 to 50,000 icebergs annually. The amount produced in the
Antarctic regions is inestimable. Icebergs normally have a four-year
life-span; they begin entering shipping lanes after about three years.
Oceans absorb between 30% and 50% of
the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuel. Carbon dioxide is
transported downwards by plankton. Any change in the temperature of the
ocean water, influences the ability of plankton to take up carbon dioxide.
This has consequences for the ecosystem, because plankton form the base of
the food web.
60% of the world's coral reefs are threatened as a result of pollution,
sedimentation and bleaching due to rising water temperatures caused by
global warming. Global Coral Monitoring Network (GCRMN) states that
currently 27% of all coral reef worldwide has disappeared and around
2050 only 30% will be left.
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In one year, three times as much rubbish
is dumped into the world's oceans as the weight of fish caught.
single quart of
motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of
If all the gold suspended in
the world's seawater were mined, each person on Earth could have about 9
pounds of gold.
Oil is one of the ocean's greatest resources. It gives us heat for our homes, endless consumer products,
and the ability to run the engines of
cars, planes, and boats for
all over the world. Nearly one-third of the world's oil comes from
offshore fields in our oceans which, as we've seen can have devastating
effects on our ocean's ecosystems. The transport of ocean oil from the
Arabian Gulf, The North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico reaches all corners
of the globe on a daily basis.
Oil was also borne from the
sea. Millions of years ago, countless marine microscopic plants
(phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton) lived in the ancient seas as
they do today. As they died, the skeletal remains of these tiny organisms
settled to the sea floor, mixed with mud and silt, and over millions of
years, formed organic-rich sedimentary layers. Other sediments continued
to be deposited and further buried the organic-rich sediment layer to
depths of thousands of feet, compressing the layers into a rock that would
become the source for oil. Over the years, as the depth of the burial
increased, pressure increased, along with the temperature. Under such
conditions, and over long periods of time, the original skeletal remains
of phytoplankton and zooplankton changed, breaking down into simpler
substances called hydrocarbons - compounds of hydrogen and carbon. This
process still continues, although it will be millions of years before the
next batch of oil is done cooking.
Some scientists estimate that
the oceans contain as much as 50 quadrillion tons (50 million billion
tons=50,000,000,000,000,000) of dissolved solids. If the salt in the ocean could
be removed and spread evenly over the Earth’s land surface it would form a
layer more than 500 feet (166 m) thick, about the height of a 40-story
The ocean's principal dissolved
solids are sodium salts (sodium chloride or common salt), calcium salts (calcium
carbonate or lime, and calcium sulfate), potassium salts (potassium sulfate),
and magnesium salts (magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and magnesium
Atlantic sea water is heavier
than Pacific sea water due to its higher salt content.
The freezing point of sea water
depends on its salt content. Typical ocean water has about 35 grams of salt per
liter and freezes at -19 degrees C.
Inorganic Salt Components
Arabian Gulf reverse osmosis plants treat
500,000,000 gallons of sea water to obtain 100,000,000 gallons of fresh
water. Daily over 500,000,000 gallons of Seawater must be heated to
extremely high temperatures. Mixed with toxic chemicals the Seawater is
injected under high pressure through a series of membrane filters. Only
100,000,000 gallons of fresh water is generated. The 5:1 ratio of this
highly inefficient process means 400,000,000 gallons of untreated water
are returned to the sea each day. The higher temperature of the discharged
water causes environmental problems. Worse, the super heated brine
discharge has significantly higher levels of total dissolved solids, and
toxic chemicals are mixed in with it. This pollution is usually discharged
back into the sea.
The 10 Largest Territorial Powers (in million sq