Interesting Ocean Facts

Featured Article, Home & Family, Outdoors
on April 7, 2013
Courtesy of Ken Nedimyer
  • Only one ocean exists, but the seas are geographically divided into five primary ocean bodies. Boundaries were determined for historical, cultural, geographical and scientific reasons.
  • Containing more than half of the free water on Earth, the Pacific Ocean is by far the largest ocean body—and the oldest, holding rocks dated at 200 million years. The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest basin, followed by the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.
  • The average ocean depth is 14,000 feet. The deepest part, at about 36,200 feet, is called the Challenger Deep, located beneath the western Pacific Ocean.
  • The ocean is the lifeblood of our world, covering almost 71 percent of the planet’s surface and supporting 50 percent of its species. Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water can be found in the ocean.
  • For all of our reliance on the ocean, 95 percent of this realm remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes.
  • One out of six U.S. jobs is marine-related—mostly through the fishing and boating industry, tourism and recreation, and ocean transport.
  • Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land, primarily from runoff sources such as septic tanks, vehicles, boats, farms, ranches and forest areas.
  • The ocean’s salty taste comes from rocks on land. As rain erodes the rock, acids in the rainwater break down the rock and send electrically charged atomic particles known as ions into streams and rivers and, ultimately, to the ocean. Many of the dissolved ions are used by organisms in the ocean and are removed from the water. Others are left for long periods where their concentrations increase over time. Two of the most prevalent ions in seawater are chloride and sodium, which together taste salty.
  • The ocean acts like a sunlight filter, making the water often appeal blue. Water absorbs colors in the red part of the light spectrum and, like a filter, leaves behind colors in the blue part of the light spectrum for us to see. The ocean may also take on green, red or other hues as light bounces off of floating sediments and particles. Most of the ocean, however, is completely dark. No light penetrates deeper than 3,280 feet.
  • Mostly underwater, the world’s longest mountain range is known as the mid-ocean ridge and spans 40,389 miles around the earth. It is a global landmark.
  • Besides seafood, many foods and products found in your local grocery store contain ingredients from the ocean. For example, peanut butter and toothpaste both contain carrageenan, which are compounds extracted from species of red algae. The carrageenan makes peanut butter more spreadable, gives toothpaste its consistency and is used in other cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and industrial products.
  • The ocean is not a still body of water. There is constant motion due to currents caused when cold, salty water sinks to the bottom of the ocean while warm water rises to the surface. Known as the global ocean conveyor belt, the cycle gets its “start” in the Norwegian Sea, where warm water from the Gulf Stream heats the atmosphere in the cold northern latitudes and eventually moves water around the globe. It takes almost 1,000 years for the conveyor belt to complete one “cycle.”

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration