Oceans and Seas
The Earth's many waters
In the absolute broadest terms, the earth's surface is mostly covered by a continuous body of saltwater known as the global ocean. But, do to variations in climate, weather, and wildlife, (and for the sake of being able to describe the locations of things) people have found it useful to divide the ocean into many constituent parts.
The following table lists the world's oceans and seas, according to area and average depth, including the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Arctic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Bering Sea, and more.
greatest known depth
|sq. mi.||sq. km||ft.||m||ft.||m|
|Pacific Ocean||60,060,700||155,557,000||13,215||4,028||36,198||11,033||Mariana Trench|
|Atlantic Ocean||29,637,900||76,762,000||12,880||3,926||30,246||9,219||Puerto Rico Trench|
|Indian Ocean||26,469,500||68,556,000||13,002||3,963||24,460||7,455||Sunda Trench|
|Southern Ocean1||7,848,300||20,327,000||13,100–16,400||4,000–5,000||23,736||7,235||South Sandwich Trench|
|Arctic Ocean||5,427,000||14,056,000||3,953||1,205||18,456||5,625||77°45'N; 175°W|
|Mediterranean Sea2||1,144,800||2,965,800||4,688||1,429||15,197||4,632||Off Cape Matapan, Greece|
|Caribbean Sea||1,049,500||2,718,200||8,685||2,647||22,788||6,946||Off Cayman Islands|
|South China Sea||895,400||2,319,000||5,419||1,652||16,456||5,016||West of Luzon|
|Bering Sea||884,900||2,291,900||5,075||1,547||15,659||4,773||Off Buldir Island|
|Gulf of Mexico||615,000||1,592,800||4,874||1,486||12,425||3,787||Sigsbee Deep|
|Okhotsk Sea||613,800||1,589,700||2,749||838||12,001||3,658||146°10'E; 46°50'N|
|East China Sea||482,300||1,249,200||617||188||9,126||2,782||25°16'N; 125°E|
|Hudson Bay||475,800||1,232,300||420||128||600||183||Near entrance|
|Japan Sea||389,100||1,007,800||4,429||1,350||12,276||3,742||Central Basin|
|Andaman Sea||308,000||797,700||2,854||870||12,392||3,777||Off Car Nicobar Island|
|Red Sea||169,100||438,000||1,611||491||7,254||2,211||Off Port Sudan|
|Baltic Sea||163,000||422,200||180||55||1,380||421||Off Gotland|
The Seven Seas
Most people will be aware of the phrase "the seven seas", which is common in pop culture about sailors and seadogs. The term itself is very old, with variations being found in Ancient Mesopotamia, India, and Rome. The seven seas in each case refer to different bodies of water. In Rome, the seven seas aren't even seas at all but lagoons. In medieval Arabia, it referred to the seas between Arabia and China. It effectively just means "all of the seas that are particularly important to us".
In the modern era, the phrase has been applied to a group of seven oceans: the Arctic Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean, the South Pacific Ocean, and the Antarctic Ocean.
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