Home Random 135 Mediterranean Sea Facts to Hone Your Knowledge

135 Mediterranean Sea Facts to Hone Your Knowledge

by Sankalan Baidya
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One of the most famed seas in this world, the Mediterranean Sea has been known to mankind since the ancient times. In this article on Mediterranean Sea facts, we are going to learn about this famous sea in details. We will learn about its boundaries, geography, history, biodiversity and more. So, without further ado, let us begin…

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 1-5 | Basic Information

1. The Mediterranean Sea is a large water body that is connected to an even larger water body – the Atlantic Ocean.

2. A very narrow passage known as the Strait of Gibraltar is the connection line between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

3. The Strait of Gibraltar is a 14-kilometer-wide strait that separates Africa’s Morocco from Europe’s Spain and Gibraltar.

4. The Mediterranean Sea is almost landlocked from all sides. Anatolia and Southern Europe lie to the north of the sea. North Africa lies to the south of the sea. The Levant in Asia lies on the eastern side.

5. Though connected to the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea is often considered as a completely separate water body.

mediterranean sea facts

By NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center – NASA https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/new-night-lights-maps-open-up-possible-real-time-applications (image link), Public Domain, Link

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 6-10 | Basic Information

6. In case you want to pinpoint the exact location of the sea, here are the details: It lies between 30˚and 46˚N latitudes and 6˚W and 36˚E longitudes.

7. There are many countries that have a coastline with the sea. If we move in a clockwise direction, the countries bordering the sea are in the following order:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Monaco
  • Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Croatia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Montenegro
  • Albania
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Lebanon
  • Israel
  • Egypt
  • Libya
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria
  • Morocco
  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • Other island countries

8. If we move from west to east, the length of the sea is approximately 2,500 miles or 4,000 kilometers extending all the way from Strait of Gibraltar up to Gulf of Iskenderun located in Turkey’s southwestern coast.

9. If we move from north to south, the length of the sea is approximately 500 miles or 800 kilometers extending from the southern shore of Croatia all the way down to Libya.

10. If we include the Sea of Marmara, the total surface area of the Mediterranean Sea is 970,000 square miles or 2,510,000 square kilometers. The Sea of Marmara is connected to the Aegean Sea via Dardanelles.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 11-15 | Basic Information

11. The average depth of the Mediterranean Sea is 4,900 feet or 1,500 meters.

12. The maximum depth of the sea stands at 17,280 feet or 5,267 meters. This deepest point is located in the Ionian Sea’s Calypso Deep. Please note the Ionian Sea is a part of the Mediterranean Sea.

13. The water volume of the sea is 900,000 cubic miles or 3,750,000 cubic kilometers.

14. The primary inflows to the Mediterranean Sea include the following:

  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Nile
  • Sea of Marmara
  • Po
  • Chelif
  • Rhône
  • Ebro

15. There are over 3300 islands found in the Mediterranean Sea and there are nearly 60 basin countries.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 16-20 | Names of Mediterranean Sea

16. ‘The Sea’ or ‘The Great Sea’ was what the Mediterranean Sea was referred to by the ancient Greeks. They also referred to it as ‘Our Sea’ or ‘The Sea Around Us’.

17. The Romans, before the start of the Roman Empire, referred to it as ‘Mare Magnum’ (Great Sea) or ‘Mare Internum’ (Internal Sea). The Roman Empire referred to it as ‘Mare Nostrum’ (Our Sea).

18. ‘Mare Mediterrāneum’ came in later. Most likely it was Solinus who used this term somewhere in the 3rd century. However, if we go by earliest still surviving witness, it was Isidore of Seville who used the term in the 6th century.

19. ‘Mare Mediterrāneum’ means ‘In the middle of the land’. It is actually a compound term made of:

  • Medius – means ‘middle’
  • Terra – means ‘land or Earth’
  • -āneus – means ‘having the nature of’

20. Most likely, the term ‘Mare Mediterrāneum’ actually meant ‘the sea in the middle of the Earth’.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 21-25 | Names of Mediterranean Sea

21. The Mediterranean Sea was once referred to as the ‘Syrian Sea’ by the Carthaginians.

22. Interestingly, however, the sea was referred to as the ‘Great Sea’ in the Syrian texts of ancient times. The same name has been used even in Hebrew Bible and the Phoenician epics.

23. The same texts (Hebrew Bible, Phoenician epics and ancient Syrian texts) also referred to the Mediterranean Sea as ‘Hinder Sea’ because the sea is actually located on Greater Syria’s (or Holy Land’s) west coast.

24. Modern Hebrew refers to this sea as the ‘Middle Sea’ or ‘HaYam HaTikhon’.

25. Modern Arabic refers to the sea as ‘the [White] Middle Sea’. Older Arabic and Islamic literatures refer to it as ‘the Roman Sea’ or the ‘Sea of the Romans’.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 26-30 | Civilizations – Ancient & Middle Ages

26. Many ancient civilizations flourished around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The Greek City States, as well as the Phoenicians, were the two best examples from ancient times.

mediterranean sea facts

Greek Colonies (Red) and Phoenician Colonies (Yellow) along Mediterranean Coast in Classical Antiquity (6th Century BCE) | CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

27. While the Greeks and the Phoenicians colonized Mediterranean coastlines extensively, the Romans were no less. After the establishment of the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean Sea stayed under their complete control for 400 years.

28. The iron rule of Romans can be understood from the very fact that the whole coastline of Mediterranean, starting from Gibraltar and all the way up to the Levant.

mediterranean sea facts

Extent of Roman Empire in 117 CE | CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

29. Do you know who was Darius I? He was a Persian King who conquered Egypt during antiquity. It was Darius I who linked the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. He did that by cutting open a canal.

30. The canal he built was wide enough for two triremes (a type of ancient maritime vessel) to pass through the canal side by side and that too with all their oars extended outwards.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 31-35 | Civilizations – Ancient & Middle Ages

31. During the Middle Ages, somewhere during 476 CE, the Western Roman Empire collapsed completely. However, the Romans still continued to control the Mediterranean because the Eastern Roman Empire continued to flourish temporarily through Byzantine Empire. (In case you are not aware, the Byzantine Empire was formed from the Eastern Roman Empire in the 4th century).

32. In the 7th century, however, Roman influence faded as the Arab Empire rose to power and Islam gained prominence. By the time the Arab Empire reached its peak, it was already controlling 75% of the entire Mediterranean region.

33. During the later Middle Ages, Anatolia-based Ottoman power was growing and it managed to destroy the Byzantine Empire completely in 1453 with the famous Conquest of Constantinople.

34. By the 16th century, Ottoman power had taken control of most of the Mediterranean Sea and had notable naval bases in Tunisia, Algeria, and southern France.

35. True domination of the Ottoman Navy in the Mediterranean Sea can after 1560’s Battle of Djerba. However, the power of the Ottoman Navy was eventually put to check by European powers in 1571 in the famous Battle of Lepanto.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 36-40 | Geography of Mediterranean Sea

mediterranean sea facts

By O H 237Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

36. Homer (the person who composed Odyssey and Illiad) referred to the Strait of Gibraltar as ‘Pillars of Hercules’. Remember the Strait of Gibraltar? It is the strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.

37. Moving to the east, the Mediterranean is connected with the Black Sea by Bosporus (a narrow and natural strait) and to the Sea of Marmara by Dardanelles (a narrow and natural strait that was once known as Hellespontos during Classical Antiquity).

38. It is interesting to note that the Sea of Marmara is often considered as a part of the Mediterranean Sea. By this logic, even Black Sea must be a part of Mediterranean but that is not the case.

39. Suez Canal – an artificial canal – connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea. The Suez Canal is 101 miles or 163 kilometers long.

40. There are many islands found in the Mediterranean Sea. However, some of the largest islands of the sea are named below:

  • Eastern Mediterranean Sea: Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, Kefalonia, Lesbos, Andros, Samos, Limnos, Corfu, Chios, and Euboea.
  • Central Mediterranean Sea: Malta, Pag, Sicily, Hvar, Krk, Cres, Korčula and Brač.
  • Western Mediterranean Sea: Menorca, Majorca, Ibiza, Corsica and Sardinia.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 41-45 | Mediterranean Sea Characteristics

41. The waters of the Mediterranean Sea have a deep blue color. This color makes the sea instantly recognizable.

42. The Mediterranean Sea is known for its limited tides. The reason is that it is completely landlocked except for its narrow connection with the Atlantic Ocean.

43. In the whole of Mediterranean Sea, the total evaporation is actually greater than the sum of total river runoff and total precipitation (rainfall).

44. Eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea has higher evaporation than the western side of the sea.

45. Because of high evaporation, eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea has a low water level and the salinity of seawater is also high. On this side, salinity stands at 3.8% at the depth of 5 meters.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 46-50 | Mediterranean Sea Characteristics

46. Atlantic Ocean’s water that has low salinity and is relatively cool is actually pushed into the Mediterranean Sea by the pressure gradient.

47. As the Atlantic water starts traveling towards the east of the Mediterranean Sea, it gradually becomes saltier and warms up only to eventually sink in the Levant region.

48. Once the Atlantic water sinks in the east of the Mediterranean Sea, it will circulate back towards the west only to spill into the Atlantic Ocean over the Strait of Gibraltar.

49. However, this water that spills into the Atlantic is known as the Mediterranean Intermediate Water and has a different chemical composition to that of Atlantic waters. Once the Mediterranean Intermediate Water enters the Atlantic, it can travel thousands of kilometers away.

50. Water in the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea (which is located in the Ionian Sea) has a temperature of 55.8˚F or 13.2˚C.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 51-55 | Mediterranean Sea Subdivisions

51. IHO or International Hydrographic Organization has divided the Mediterranean into several smaller water bodies.

52. The major subdivisions from West to East are mentioned below:

  • Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Between Morocco and Spain lies the Alboran Sea.
  • Between the Balearic Islands of Spain and Spain’s mainland lies the Balearic Sea.
  • Between Italy’s Liguria and Corsica, you can find the Ligurian Sea.
  • The Tyrrhenian Sea can be found enclosed between Sicily, Italian Peninsula, and Sardinia.
  • If you look between Greece, Italy, and Albania, you will notice the Ionian Sea. This is a subdivision of Mediterranean Sea where you can find Mediterranean’s deepest point.
  • Sitting between Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy is the Adriatic Sea.
  • Sandwiched between the Turkey and Greece is the Aegean Sea.

53. Apart from the subdivisions provided by the IHO, there are other subdivisions as well, some of which have been in use since ancient times and are also used in present times.

54. The common subdivisions that are not recognized by the IHO include the following:

  • Libyan Sea – it is a bay that is located to Libya’s north.
  • Levantine Sea – it is nothing but Mediterranean Sea’s eastern end.
  • Between Cyprus and Turkey is the Cilician Sea.
  • Aegean Sea (recognized by IHO) has further subdivisions which include:
    • Icarian Sea located between Cyprus and Turkey.
    • On Crete’s north lies the Sea of Crete.
    • Between Peloponnese and Cyclades is the Myrtoan Sea.
    • To the north of the Aegean Sea is the Thracian Sea.
  • Between Tunisia and Sicily is the Sea of Sicily.
  • The Sea of Sardinia, which is basically a part of the Balearic Sea and is present between the Balearic Islands and Sardinia.

55. While the aforementioned list is already confusing, there’s more to leave you even more confused. There are many straits and gulfs in the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the most famous ones are:

  • Gulf of Venice.
  • Gulf of Taranto.
  • Gulf of Lion.
  • Strait of Sicily.
  • Gozo Channel.
  • Malta Channel.
  • Gulf of İ
  • Bay of Gibraltar.
  • Saint George Bay.
  • Ras Ibn Hani cape.
  • Strait of Messina etc.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 56-60 | Certain Mediterranean Sea Measurements

56. 1,500 meters or 4,900 feet is the average depth of the Mediterranean Sea.

57. The coastline of the sea is long and extends up to 29,000 miles or 46,000 kilometers.

58. The sea is divided into the Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean by the Strait of Sicily, which is a shallow submarine ridge located between Tunisia’s coast and the island of Sicily.

59. The area of the Western Mediterranean is nearly 330,000 square miles or 850,000 square kilometers. The Eastern Mediterranean is bigger with an area of about 640,000 square miles or 1.65 million square kilometers.

60. Submarine Karst Springs (which are also known as the Vruljas) is an important characteristic of the coastal Mediterranean. These springs are known for releasing pressurized groundwater into the seawaters of the coastal areas from below the surface. The water discharged by Karst Springs is often freshwater and sometimes thermal.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 61-65 | Geological History of Mediterranean Sea

61. It was believed till the 1960s that the Mediterranean Sea was actually a remnant of the ancient Tethys Sea that girdled the entire Eastern Hemisphere separating Laurasia and Gondwana – the two supercontinents.

62. Late 20th century, however, saw the rise of another theory known as Seafloor Spreading. This theory suggested that the Mediterranean Sea’s floor was not a remnant of the prehistoric Tethys Sea that existed some 200 million years ago.

63. This new theory suggests that the current structure of the basin was actually a result of convergence followed by the recession of Eurasian and African continental plates. This convergence and recession took place over the period of last 44 million years.

64. The convergence and recession of the continental plates resulted in the mountain system bordering the tectonically active Mediterranean basin.

65. In the years 1970 and 1975, seabed sediment cores were drilled and studied. The study initially reinforced the theory that the Mediterranean was a remnant of Tethys Sea.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 66-70 | Geological History of the Mediterranean Sea (Messinian Salinity Crisis)

66. The study of the sediment cores suggested that some 6 million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea went completely dry because of what is known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis.

67. As per this theory, Africa’s northwest corner converged on Iberia during the Mesozoic time and Cenozoic time. Because of this convergence, Betic-Rif mountain belts were lifted across northwest Africa and southern Iberia.

68. As the mountain belts were lifted, two intramontane basins (Betic basin and Rif basin) were created. This, in turn, created two nearly parallel gateways between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

69. These two gateways were referred to as the Betic Corridor and Rif Corridor. During Middle and Late Miocene, these two corridors closed (most likely several times).

70. It was hypothesized that it was during the Late Miocene that the closure of the Betic Corridor started the Messinian Salinity Crisis. This happened somewhere around 5.96 million years ago.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 71-75 | Geological History of the Mediterranean Sea (Messinian Salinity Crisis)

71. The Messinian Salinity Crisis stayed for some 630,000 years and came to an end somewhere around 5.3 million years ago. It was during this Messinian Salinity Crisis that salt deposits on Mediterranean seafloor took place.

72. It is believed that after the initial drawdown of Mediterranean seawater, reflooding took place. There were multiple episodes of such drawdown and reflooding during Messinian Salinity Crisis.

73. Finally, during the end of the Miocene (some 5.33 million years ago), the Atlantic Ocean reflooded the basin creating the Strait of Gibraltar that we know today. This final flooding was named as Zanclean Flood.

74. It is believed that during the Zanclean Flood, the water flow was 1,000 times greater than the current water flow of the Amazon River.

75. Recent studies, however, have something different to suggest. They focus more on microfossils and recent seismic activities. The studies contradict the theory of Messinian Salinity Crisis and hypothesize that the Mediterranean basin never really completely dried out.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 76-80 | Geological History of the Mediterranean Sea

76. According to these recent studies, some 5 million years ago, several basins were present on the seafloor and that it was never completely dry.

77. These basins had different topography and variable size. They had different depths ranging from 650 feet or 200 meters to 5,000 feet or 1,500 meters.

78. It is possible that highly saline waters having varying depths were present at the bottom and they deposited the salts that are found today in Mediterranean seafloor.

79. There is still no unanimous agreement regarding how the salt deposits formed and the chronology of the events that eventually led to the salt deposits.

80. The recent theory based on core sampling and seismic activities is intensely debated. That doesn’t, however, mean that Messinian Salinity Crisis theory is right. From the geodynamic point of view, repeated dissection and reflooding is not a plausible option either.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 81-85 | Mediterranean Sea Climate

81. The Mediterranean Sea receives airflow through gaps that are present in the mountain ranges. This is however not the case in its southern shores located at Tunisia’s east.

82. Because the winds funnel in through the gaps in mountain ranges, they are very strong, causing very high rates of evaporation during the summer months. Because of this, seasonal water deficits are also caused in the Mediterranean Sea.

83. There are different winds that come in through different areas. They are:

  • Mistral – It is northwesterly wind and is dry and cold. It flows in through lower Rhône Valley and through Alps-Pyrenees gap.
  • Bora – It is northeasterly wind and is very strong. It flows in through Trieste gap.
  • Levanter – It is cold easterly wind. It comes in through the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Vendaval – It is westerly wind and also comes in through Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Ghibli or Khamsin or Sirocco – It is dry wind from the southeast. It flows into the Mediterranean basin from the Arabian Peninsula and Sahara.

84. The different winds mentioned above are responsible for a significant reduction in moisture and heat of the surface waters of Mediterranean. This happens because of the evaporite cooling.

85. Because the surface temperature of the water drops and it becomes denser, it sinks below.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 86-90 | Mediterranean Sea Climate

86. Mediterranean climate is usually restricted to the coastal zones of the sea.

87. Summers are usually dry, hot and calm. Winters, on the other hand, are mild, windy and wet.

88. Autumns are relatively short in the Mediterranean while the Spring being the transitional season remains changeable.

89. Talk of rainfall, it remains unpredictable. However, anything above 250 mm or 10 inches along the North African coast (extending from Tunisia’s Qābis to Egypt) is quite a rarity.

90. Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, on the other hand, receives 2,500 mm or 100 inches of rainfall in a year. The mountainous coastal areas are the ones that receive maximum rainfall.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 91-95 | Mediterranean’s Biological Resources

91. The Mediterranean has a scarcity of plant nutrients such as the nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates. There are seasonal fluctuations in these nutrients. During springtimes, these nutrients increase because of a boom in phytoplankton.

92. One of the several reasons for Mediterranean waters being low in nutrients is that it receives most of its waters from Atlantic Ocean’s surface waters.

93. Plant nutrients may be low in the Mediterranean but that doesn’t mean that the biota of the sea is not rich. There are roughly 12,000 species of animals found in the Mediterranean. Of these, nearly 4,000 species are endemic to the Mediterranean Sea.

94. It is interesting to note that the total catch (of fish) has a high demand in Mediterranean countries for consumption. Fish caught from the Mediterranean actually make up a significant portion of total fish caught across the globe.

95. Commercial fisheries are expensive in the Mediterranean because of its low nutrients. This, coupled with high fish demand in the Mediterranean, has actually led to many small-scale fisheries that go for small catches in boats that don’t exceed 20 meters in length. Though these boats are small, they are high in number and sufficient enough to cause significant depletion of local stocks as these small fisheries often overfish.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 96-100 | Mediterranean’s Biological Resources

96. You may ask, ‘what causes overfishing in the Mediterranean?’. The answer to this question lies in the use of what is known as trawl nets.

97. These nets are known for having extremely small mesh size. Such small mesh size eventually leads to capture of the smallest of fishes (undersized).

98. Controlling the mesh size was once a method that was applied in order to ensure that undersized fish were not caught. However, that didn’t really work out. Different Mediterranean countries have different fishing equipment and their compliance policies vary significantly.

99. Monitoring the mesh size of the trawl nets was not really feasible and hence, the step failed.

100. To make things worse, drift nets are in use in recent times. These nets are known to be up to 24 kilometers or 15 miles long and can extend all the way up to 12 meters or 40 feet under water. These nets are capable of killing many fish and animal species that are non-commercial such as the Monk Seal, sea turtles, whales, dolphins etc.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 101-105 | Biodiversity of Mediterranean

101. The Mediterranean Sea has a rich biodiversity despite being nutrient-poor. As mentioned earlier, there are nearly 4,000 out of nearly 12,000 species that are endemic to the sea (that is, they are found only in the Mediterranean Sea).

102. As of today, a total of 712 fish species can be found in the Mediterranean. Many of these are demersal (that is, they live in the bottom layers of the sea). Some of the demersal fish species include:

  • Redfishes
  • Sea Bass
  • Groupers
  • Lizard Fish
  • Gurnard
  • Gobies
  • Red Mullet
  • Croakers
  • Congers
  • Whitings
  • Turbot
  • Soles
  • Flounder
  • Sea Bream
  • Combers
  • Jacks
  • Hake
  • Pandoras etc.

103. Apart from these fish species, there are many cartilaginous fishes like skates, rays, and sharks. Hake is one of the most commercially important demersal fish species to live in the Mediterranean.

104. Various shellfish, prawns, shrimps, and crabs can be found in rocky costs of the sea.

mediterranean sea facts

Mediterranean Sardines

105. There are several pelagic fish species in the Mediterranean. Pelagic means those that live in the upper layers of the Mediterranean waters. Sardine is one of the most commercially important pelagic fish species of the sea.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 106-110 | Biodiversity of Mediterranean

106. In 1869, the Suez Canal was opened. It connected the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Compared to the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea is higher. As a result of this, the Suez Canal actually works as what is known as a tidal strait as water pours in from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean.

107. The Suez Canal had the Bitter Lakes (several hypersaline natural lakes) as its part. The hyper-salinity of these lakes prevented the Red Sea species from migrating into the Mediterranean for many years. However, the salinity of the Bitter Lakes equalized with that of the Red Sea, facilitating the movement of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean Sea.

108. Gradually, animals and plants from the Red Sea started moving into the Mediterranean Sea and started colonizing the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

109. These Red Sea species found it easier to cope with Mediterranean waters because even the Red Sea is nutrient-poor. The problem is that Mediterranean Sea biota never invades the Red Sea.

110. This phenomenon of Red Sea species invading the Mediterranean Sea is referred to as Lessepsian Migration or Erythrean Invasion.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 111-115 | Biodiversity of Mediterranean

111. The conditions for invasion worsened when the Aswan High Dam was constructed on the Nile River in the 1960s. The dam resulted in the reduction of freshwater inflow into the Mediterranean Sea. Along with that nutrient-rich silt was also stopped from entering the Mediterranean.

112. Because of the Aswan High Dam, the conditions of the Mediterranean Sea became even more like the Red Sea. This facilitated further Lessepsian Migration.

Mediterranean Sea Facts

Reticulate Whipray from Red Sea invading Mediterranean Sea via Suez Canal | By Aurimas Mikalauskas from Paliūniškis, Lithuania – Coachwhip ray – closer look, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

113. Reticulate Whipray is one of the invasive species from the Red Sea that colonized the Mediterranean Sea. 70% of decapods of non-indigenous origin and 63% of exotic fish species found in the Mediterranean are of Indo-Pacific region that entered the sea through the Suez Canal.

114. Migration also takes place from tropical Atlantic into the Mediterranean Sea. Bluefin Tuna is one such Atlantic species that move into the Mediterranean Sea via the Strait of Gibraltar. This particular one has a high commercial value.

mediterranean sea facts

Mediterranean Monk Seal | Image Credit: Marine Mammal Commission

115. Common seahorse, short-beaked common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, fin whales and critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal (this seal is endemic to the sea) are some of the many species that are found in the Mediterranean Sea. Did you know that green turtles and loggerhead turtles use the Mediterranean Sea basin as the breeding site?

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 116-120 | Natural Hazards of Mediterranean

116. The Mediterranean Sea has several geological hazards that have or had close interactions with human settlements in the area. For instance, somewhere in 16th century BCE or 17th century BCE, the infamous Thera Eruption occurred.

117. That volcanic eruption mostly like hurdled a massive tsunami towards the Crete island, which possibly wiped out the Minoan Civilization. Some people actually believe that the catastrophe caused by the Thera Eruption led to the creation of Atlantis legend.

118. The European mainland has a single active volcano – Mount Vesuvius. Stromboli and Mount Etna are other active volcanoes but are present in neighboring islands.

119. Vesuvius is actually quite dangerous. It is not only active but is also known for its explosive eruptions. It exploded in 79 CE and led to complete destruction and burying of Herculaneum and Pompeii – two famous Roman cities.

120. Earthquakes and tsunamis are often underrated in the region but they are equally as dangerous as the volcanic eruptions. In 1908, 123,000 lives were lost in Calabria and Sicily because of the Messina earthquake and tsunami.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 121-125 | Disturbing Facts About Mediterranean Sea

121. How can we not talk about pollution for which humans are responsible? United Nations Environment Programme gives the following estimates:

  • 36,000 tons of phosphates are dumped into the sea every year.
  • 3,800 tons of lead and 60,000 tons of mercury are also dumped into the sea each year.
  • As if that is not enough, we are also responsible for dumping 129,000 tons of mineral oil and 650,000,000 tons of sewage into the sea every single year.

122. Needless to say, the pollution that we have caused has actually led to nearly complete wiping out of many marine animals and the Mediterranean Monk Seal is the most shining example of our misdeeds.

123. Do not forget the marine debris. In 1994, the seabed was studied using trawl nets near Italian, French and Spanish coasts. Guess what they found? For every square kilometer, there were 1,935 items of which 76% were plastic debris. Again, of all the plastic debris, plastic bags made up 94%.

124. It is estimated that the sea level of the Mediterranean will rise by anywhere between 3 cm to 61 cm by end of 2100. This will be a result of climate changes (we humans are greatly responsible for that).

125. Once the sea level rises, many parts of Malta will submerge under water. Not just that, rising saltwater levels will reduce drinking water supplies for Malta’s people. This drinking water comes from underground. It is estimated that if the sea level increases by 30 cm, 500,000 Egyptians will be displaced because 200 square kilometers of the Nile Delta will be completely flooded.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 125-130 | Shipping and Tourism Facts

126. The Mediterranean Sea has one of the world’s busiest ship routes. 220,000 merchant vessels traverse across the sea every year. They make up 1/3rd of all merchant ships in the world.

127. These merchant vessels that weigh a minimum of 100 tons each actually carry hazardous cargo. Did you know that the Mediterranean Sea makes up 0.7% of the total water surface in the world but it receives 17% of the total marine oil pollution in this world?

128. Mediterranean Sea basin is one of the most culturally diverse sea basins in the world with a very rich history. There is no doubt that it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

129. Tourism is one of the major sources of income for the Mediterranean countries. It is also an alternative income source for coastal communities and island communities that are far from the mainland urban centers.

130. Despite tourism being important in the Mediterranean region, it is important to note that tourism is actually responsible for the degradation of marine and coastal environments. Pollution is definitely one of the biggest concerns.

Mediterranean Sea Facts: 131-135 | Major Islands and Countries of Mediterranean

131. The 10 largest islands of the Mediterranean Sea (in decreasing order of area and population) are:

  • Island of Sicily (Italy)
  • Island of Sardinia (Italy)
  • Island of Cyprus (Cyprus)
  • Island of Corsica (France)
  • Island of Crete (Greece)
  • The island of Euboea (Greece)
  • Island of Majorca (Spain)
  • The island of Lesbos (Greece)
  • Island of Rhodes (Greece)
  • Island of Chios (Greece)

132. There are many countries that have a coastline with the Mediterranean Sea. The Island nations that have a coastline with the Mediterranean are the Cyprus and Malta.

133. The Southern Shore of the sea has Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco (from east to west).

134. The Eastern Shore of the sea has Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey (from south to north).

135. The Northern Shore of the sea has Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Monaco, France, and Spain (from east to west).

This completes our list of Mediterranean Sea facts. Of course, we did not cover every single fact about the sea but most of them have been mentioned here. In case you have a few more to share, feel free to share through the comments section of this post.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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