Ocean Facts

There is literally an endless amount of interesting facts about oceanography, oceans, and marine biology. From amazing sea animals and shark facts to deep sea biology and life at thermal vents, the oceans are filled with fascinating facts. Below are just a few of the most interesting.

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Facts about Oceans

    • More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans.
    • Oceans contain 97% of Earth’s water.
    • 95% of the oceans remain unexplored.
    • Most oceanographers agree that the ocean floor is about 10 times younger than the continents (200 million years old versus about 2-3 billion years old).
    • Deepest part of the ocean: The Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific is the deepest known point in the ocean at a depth of about 36,000 feet (10,900 meters) or 6.8 miles! The average depth of all oceans combined is about 2.5 miles.

      Bay of Fundy

      Low tide on the Bay of Fundy

    • The highest tide in the world is found in the Bay of Fundy between new Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. Tidal ranges can be as much as 53.5 feet (16.3 meters) during spring tides. Tides in Anchorage, Alaska also have a huge range of up to 40 feet (12.2 meters).
    • The Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon off Monterey, California is deeper and larger by volume than the Grand Canyon.
    • What causes tides? Tides are the movement of water on the Earth’s surface in response to the acceleration of the Earth and the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon. The varying degrees and kinds of tides are impacted by celestial bodies, the depth and shape of the coast and sea floor, and of the Coriolis effect.
    • What causes waves? Most waves are created by wind blowing across the surface of the open ocean. Constant wind causes ripples to grow larger and turn into waves. The height of waves depends on the strength and duration of the wind causing them and how far they have been “pushed” across the ocean. Tides, earthquakes, and other phenomena can also cause waves.
    • What’s the biggest wave? An earthquake in the Alaska Panhandle during 1958 in Lituya Bay caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to fall 3,000 feet into the ocean, creating a local tsunami. The wave from this tsunami reached 1,720 feet above sea level, making it the largest single wave ever recorded. Other large waves in the Southern Ocean typically reach 50+ feet in height during storm events.

Facts about Sea Animals

  • The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest animal to ever live on planet Earth. These massive mammals can reach lengths of almost 100 feet.

    Blue Whale

    Earth’s largest animal, the blue whale

  • The largest fish in the world is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which can grow to over 40 feet in length.
  • The smallest fish in the world is the adult Marshall Islands dwarf goby at just 0.3 inches (6 mm) long.
  • The mola, or giant ocean sunfish, is the largest bony fish in the world and can weight up to 500 pounds.
  • The fastest fish in the world is the sailfish, which can reach speeds up to 68mph (109km/h).
  • Many shark species need to keep swimming in order to breathe because they don’t have the necessary muscles to pump oxygen-rich water over their gills.
  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the Earth’s largest living structure at 1,243 miles long.
  • Sea stars (“starfish”) can regenerate lost arms. In fact, sometimes a detached arm can grow into an entirely new sea star.
  • Coral reefs rank second (just behind rain forests) for biodiversity of species.

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