The ocean is one of the biggest mysteries of mankind. People search out facts about the ocean for many reasons. Some are students looking for answers. Some seek to learn more out of pure curiosity. Others may be looking to impress friends or family. Whatever your motivation we have created this list of interesting facts about the ocean to document some of the more captivating facts about the largest bodies of water on planet earth.
44 Facts About the Ocean (in no particular order)
- Earth is mostly water. Three-quarters of this planet is covered by water bodies, with the biggests ones being the five oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, Southern, Indian, and Arctic oceans).
- Ninety four percent of all life forms on Earth are aquatic. From this number, ninety percent resides in the ocean’s “abyssal zone.”
- Humans have documented space and other planets better than they have mapped the ocean floor. It is estimated that only about five percent of the world’s oceans have been totally explored.
- Oceans have an average depth of two and a half miles (13200 ft).
- The ocean is three percent salt. Its salinity is estimated to be around 34 to 36 ppt (parts per thousand), whereas fresh water has a salinity of 0 ppt.
- Light can’t penetrate 300 feet through the ocean; this area that can never be touched by sunlight is called the “deep sea.”
- There is gold in the water! It is estimated that the world’s oceans and seas contain about twenty million tons of this precious metal.
- Marine biologists estimate that only two-thirds of marine life have been documented and studied. There are millions more species that remain to be discovered.
- “Rivers” and deep “lakes” can exist under the ocean. This can happen when salty water and hydrogen sulfide mix to form a dense brine that is heavier than regular seawater.
- There are kelp forests under the ocean that can rival even the lushest of forests on land. Kelp can grow up to two feet PER DAY, so these forests can grow on the ocean floor a hundred fifty feet deep, and reach the surface of the water.
- The world’s largest museum is the ocean. Underwater you can find relics, artifacts, ruins, and shipwrecks that number more than what you can find in the world’s museums combined.
- Aside from shipwrecks and other archaeological artifacts, you can also find a lost city underwater. Archaeologists discovered the lost city of Thonis/Heracleion off the coast of Egypt in 2000 that was long thought to be merely the stuff of legend.
- The deepest recorded point on the ocean floor is the Mariana Trench, with a depth of nearly 36,000 feet.
- The Mariana Trench can accommodate thirty Empire State Buildings (each at 1250 tall, including the spire) each standing one on top of another.
- The deepest dive by a human submersible vehicle was done in the Mariana Trench. This was accomplished by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh (riding in research bathyscape) in 1960.
- Ninety percent of all volcanic activity on Earth happens in the ocean.
- Oceanic life forms began 3 billion years ago. In comparison, land-based creatures appeared only 400 million years ago.
- A mouthful of water from the ocean contains millions of bacteria and billions of viruses.
- Water pressure at the deepest point of the Mariana Trench can reach 1000 atm (atmospheric pressure).
- There are a lot of sea creatures that were able to adapt their bodies to withstand the high pressure found at the deepest corners of the ocean.
- The farthest that a human wearing a diving suit can reach under the ocean is 2000 feet.
- Mauna Kea is the highest mountain on the ocean! From the ocean floor, it stands about 33,400 feet high. Only 13,000 feet of its total height can be found above the water.
- The Mid-Oceanic Mountain Ridge is the largest and longest mountain range in the world. And it’s not on land- it’s located under the ocean.
- Along the Mid-Oceanic Mountain Ridge the mountains go through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, then continues on to the Pacific and Indian oceans. It is around 35,000 miles long.
- Humankind have actually set foot on the moon FIRST, before they’ve even touched the bottom of the Mid-Oceanic Mountain Ridge. Divers first explored the Ridge in 1973, while Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins touched down on the moon four years earlier, in 1969.
- The underwater Mid-Oceanic Mountain Ridge comprises about 23 percent of the Earth’s surface. It contains mountains and peaks bigger than what you can find in the Alps.
- The average temperature of the ocean’s surface water is 17 degrees Celsius (or 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Sound travels faster in the ocean than. It travels underwater at a speed of 1435m per second, almost five times faster than in air.
- Aside from underwater rivers and lakes, there are also weird formations and phenomena that happen exclusively in the depths of the ocean, like underwater hot springs, chimneys that regurgitate sulfuric acid, brine pools, and other such oddities.
- The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest body of water. Its area covers at least one-third of the total surface area of the Earth. It is also home to some 25,000 islands.
- Ocean and seawater are salty because it contains ions and minerals washed away from rocks on land.
- The water pressure at the deepest point in the ocean (the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench) is 8 tons per square inch. This is equivalent to the force of one human being holding up the weight of fifty or so jumbo jets.
- Should all the glaciers, icebergs, and icesheets melt in an instant, sea levels would rise 262 feet. This is enough to fully submerge most coastal cities in the world.
- Volcanic activity, earthquakes, and landslides that happen underwater have the potential to cause devastating tsunamis like those that happened in the Indian Ocean in 2004, Chile in 2010, and Japan in 2011.
- It is estimated that air pollution is responsible for at least one-third of toxic contaminants that are dumped on a yearly basis onto oceans and other bodies of water.
- The mass of the ocean’s surface, (about thirty-three feet of it), is equivalent to the mass of the Earth’s whole atmosphere.
- Microbes dating back to the Jurassic era were discovered in 2012! These microbes were found buried deep in the Pacific Ocean, and have managed to survive despite extreme conditions.
- The earth is the only known planet to have oceans, or any large bodies of water for that matter. This might change in the future as we discover more planets and moons in our universe.
- Half of the oxygen that we breathe in is produced by seaweed and phytoplankton that reside in the ocean.
- Phytoplanktons undergo photosynthesis. They derive carbon dioxide from the ocean, use the carbon for their bodies, and release the remaining oxygen into the air.
- There’s a huge “island” of trash floating around the northern area of the Pacific Ocean right now. Called the Great Pacific Garbage patch, this floating plastic garbage island moves around inside the center of the Pacific’s rotating ocean current.
- Among the five oceans, the Indian Ocean is the hottest. Its surface water can sometimes reach past 30 degrees Celsius.
- Half of United States’ territory (over which the country has legal jurisdiction over) lie under the ocean.
- Up to date information about the world’s oceans and seas (water color, height of waves, temperature, etcetera) are gathered by satellites and sent back via radio signals to Earth.
Did we miss one of your favorite facts about the ocean? Please tell us about it in the comments below!
1 thought on “44 Interesting Facts About the Ocean”
I have two (2) questions:
Ref. Fact 33, how do climate scientists come up with the calculation of 262 feet? My Dad doesn’t believe this.. I tell him that they use scientifically proven techniques and he says he still doesn’t believe the calculations.. Can you point me to a website that would explain how they arrive at that figure? I would sure appreciate it so I could show him and put this issue to rest!
Ref. Fact 36, I’m a bit confused… you state: “The mass of the ocean’s surface, (about thirty-three feet of it), is equivalent to the mass of the Earth’s whole atmosphere.” Is the “(about thirty-three feet of it)” meaning the surface of the ocean plus 33 feet in depth?
That’s all of the questions I have! Thank you so much for an enlightening article!