Back onboard Dreams, the view from Sixty Mile Bank revealed an endless expanse of blue water. We were too distant from land to view the shore; no passing boat interrupted our feeling of complete isolation on the fringe of the Pacific, the world’s largest ocean. The experience of floating in the calm sea that day brought to mind the beginning of life itself.

OCEANS AND SEAS

The primordial forces that created the earth and left nearly three-fourths of its surface covered by water made life possible. Liquid water is one of the features that differentiate the earth from the lifeless planets in our solar system.

As large as the land surfaces may seem, they are dwarfed by the vast oceans and major seas of our planet, occupying 139 million square miles.3 (See Table 1.)

The reach of the oceans is perhaps best visualized by realizing that the Pacific Ocean alone covers 32.4 percent of the earth’s surface, more than all of the landmasses combined. (Here, where we calmly floated during our journey from Marina Del Rey to Baja, we were a microscopic speck on the largest segment of the earth.) The Atlantic Ocean

TABLE 1 The Earth’s Oceans and Seas

Water body name

Area (million square miles)

Average depth (feet)

Pacific Ocean

64.0

13,215

Atlantic Ocean

31.8

12,880

Indian Ocean

25.3

13,002

Arctic Ocean

5.44

3,953

Mediterranean Sea

1.15

4,688

Caribbean Sea

1.05

8,685

South China Sea

0.90

5,410

Bering Sea

0.88

5,075

Okhotsk Sea

0.61

2,749

Others

7.9

Land

58 (29%)

TOTAL

197

 



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