World’s largest ocean – the Pacific Ocean – is quite stunning. With a mean depth of 4,280 meters and water volume of 170,000,000 cubic miles or 710,000,000 cubic kilometers, this ocean boasts to be the world’s third-largest drainage basin.
It is home to some of the most majestic islands in world and of course, there is no scarcity of marine life. In this article on Pacific Ocean facts, we are going to learn a few things about this mighty water body. Ready? Let’s get started…
Pacific Ocean Facts: 1-5
1. There were many explorations in Pacific Ocean. Even in ancient times, people used Pacific Ocean for long-distance trade with other countries.
2. Though there were many explorers who discovered some part of Pacific Ocean, the credit to the discovery of the Pacific Ocean is given to Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. He discovered the ocean in the year 1513. Later a Portuguese explorer named it as Pacifico.
3. Pacific Ocean separates North America, South America from Asia and Australia.
4. It is so vast that it is divided into north pacific (Pacific Ocean above the equator) and south pacific (Pacific Ocean below the equator). It covers nearly one-third of the surface of the earth and has an area of 165,200,000 km2 or 63,800,000 square miles.
5. This mighty ocean is bigger than all the continents combined. The area of the total landmass on earth is 150,000,000 square kilometers or 58,000,000 square miles.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 6-10
6. Many seas lie along the western margins of the Pacific Ocean. The seas are South China Sea (South Sea), Sea of Japan (East Sea), Philippine Sea, Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, Coral Sea, East China Sea (East Sea), Yellow Sea (West Sea of Korea) and Tasman Sea.
7. The boundaries of this vast ocean are Arctic’s Bering Sea from the north to the Ross Sea of Antarctica or till northern extent of Antarctic/Southern Ocean (till 60 degrees South). Indonesia is the eastern tip whereas the western limit is Columbia.
8. Did you know that Pacific Ocean is shrinking nearly 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) a year because of the movement of tectonic plates? Atlantic Ocean on the other hand is increasing in its size.
9. The Indonesian Seaway (Strait of Malacca and Torres Strait) is the place where Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean join. Pacific Ocean joins Atlantic Ocean in the east through Drake Passage and Strait of Magellan. Bering Strait in the north joins Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
10. Pacific Ocean is also the deepest ocean. On an average, the depth is 3,800 meters or 12,467 feet. Challenger Deep of Mariana Trench (north of New Guinea and west of Philippines) of Pacific Ocean is the deepest point in the world. Its depth is 10,920 meters or 35,827 feet.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 11-15
11. How did the name Challenger Deep come into existence? Simple! The area was researched by the HMS Challenger.
12. Did you know that East Pacific is in the western hemisphere and West Pacific is in the Eastern Hemisphere? This happens as the Pacific crosses 180th meridian.
13. Contrary to its name, Pacific Ocean is not really peaceful (The name Pacific was given by Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan. He named it as Pacifico which meant peaceful in Portuguese). The infamous Ring of Fire is present in the Pacific Ocean’s basin and is home to many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. 75% of the active volcanoes in the world are present in the Ring of Fire.
14. Map of Diogo Riberio (1529) for the first time showed the actual size (more or less) of the Pacific Ocean.
15. Pacific Ocean has the highest number of islands in an ocean. The number of islands present in this ocean are nearly 25,000. The islands which are exclusively present in Pacific Ocean (islands not connected to other ocean at all) only can be divided into three categories – Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 16-20
16. Micronesia islands are the islands which are present above the equator and in the west side of the International Date Line (an imaginary line which demarcates the change of day to the next day).
17. The islands which are present in Micronesia are Mariana islands towards the northwest, Caroline Islands (center), Kiribati islands in the southeast and Marshall Islands (west).
18. Islands of Melanesia are to the southwest and they are New Guinea (largest of the islands of Pacific Ocean and second largest island in world after Greenland), Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz, Fiji, Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
19. Polynesia has the largest area of the three categories of islands. It is spread out from Hawaii (north) to New Zealand (south). The islands present on the east side are Marquesas Islands, Mangareva Islands, Tuamotu and Easter Islands. The islands present in the center are Society Islands, Austral Islands and Cook Islands. Samoa, Tokelau, Kermadec Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu are present on the west side.
20. The islands in the Pacific Ocean are divided into four categories – continental, coral reefs, high islands and uplifted coral platforms.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 21-25
21. Continental islands are the islands which are present near the continents on the continental shelf (a landmass extended from continent which is present underwater). They are present outside Andesite line (A geological demarcation in the basin of Pacific Ocean between basaltic volcanic rocks and felsic andesitic volcanic rocks. Felsic andesitic volcanic rocks are seen in continental islands).
22. Some of the continental islands are New Guinea, New Zealand and Philippines. Another characteristic of these continental islands is that some of these islands share some structural features with the continent they are associated to.
23. The second category is the High Islands. They are also known as Volcanic Islands and these islands are of volcanic origin. Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Hawaii are the examples of High Islands.
24. The third category is the coral reefs. These islands are low-lying structures. Coral reefs are secretions of calcium carbonate by corals. These coral reefs are underwater ecosystems. Great Barrier Reef is finest example of this category.
25. Uplifted coral platforms are a bit larger than the coral reefs. Banaba and Makatea are examples of Uplifted coral platforms.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 26-30
26. 50% of world’s ocean water is present in the Pacific Ocean. The temperature of the water on the surface of the ocean varies from -1.4°C or 29.5 °F (near the poles) to 30 °C or 86 °F (near the equator).
27. Salinity of the water varies with the latitudes. Southeastern area has the maximum salinity of 37 parts per thousand (ppt). Contrary to our thought, equator has less salinity of 34 ppt because of high precipitation near the equator area. Salinity of 32 parts per thousand is found near the north’s frigid zone (polar region).
28. The movement of water is clockwise in northern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in southern hemisphere.
29. The climate varies from place to place. For example: British Columbia experiences milder weather in winter whereas east coast of Russia experiences extreme cold. In the tropical and subtropical Pacific, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has the say.
30. Did you know that Pacific Ocean is the only ocean to be nearly bounded by subduction zones? Well, subduction is a geological process which takes place at the converging boundaries of tectonic plates.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 31-35
31. Subduction zone refers to the boundary of two or more tectonic plates where one tectonic plate slides under another tectonic plate. As that happens, the downward pressure exerted by the plate above, along with gravitational pull, the plate beneath (the one that slides underneath) actually sinks into the mantle.
32. Pacific Ocean took birth nearly 750 million years ago. It broke off from Rodinia (a Neoproterozoic supercontinent which existed 1.3-0.9 billion years ago). However, it was called as Panthalassic Ocean till 200 million years ago. Only when Pangea broke off, Pacific Ocean got the shape now we know of.
33. Pacific Ocean hosts some of the regions which are extremely rich in flora and fauna diversity. Galapagos Islands and coral reefs are two best examples for this. Coral reefs are usually referred to as rainforests because of its rich diversity. With just 0.1% of world’s area, it consists of 25% of world’s marine species. Isn’t it amazing?
34. Galapagos Islands hosts many endemic species (species which are particular to only one geographical area and are not seen anywhere else).
35. Natural gas and petroleum are found near the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. But same is not the case everywhere because Pacific Ocean has great depth, it becomes difficult to explore and exploit the mineral wealth hidden in the ocean bed.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 36-40
37. There are many environmental concerns relating to the Pacific Ocean. Accumulation of plastics is increasing everyday and is resulting in marine debris or marine litter. Some of the debris reaches the shore and is termed as beach litter.
38. Then there is release of harmful chemicals including fertilizers into the ocean without any consideration for the marine life. With these chemicals present two things can happen, first – the chemicals may stay on the surface of the water because of their oily nature, preventing air to pass through and thereby creating dead zones (an area in ocean where oxygen content is too low).
39. The second thing that can happen is that the chemicals (fertilizers) can help in eutrophication (excessive growth of plants). This can slowly take up all the other nutrients required for life. This leads to competition and eventually death of many marine animals. This mostly happens in coastal regions.
40. Another environmental issue is the crashing down of satellites in Pacific Ocean. Many satellites have crashed into Pacific Ocean till date. Fobos-Grunt, Mars 69, Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite are few examples.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 41-45
41. There are 55 countries which border Pacific Ocean? Some of those countries are Canada, Russia, China, Mexico, USA etc.
42. Krakatoa is a volcanic island in Pacific Ocean. It erupted in the year 1883 killing nearly 36,380 people.
43. A Dutch explorer, Admiral Roggeveen discovered an island in Pacific Ocean and named it as Easter Island. Why, you ask? Because it was discovered on the Easter Sunday.
44. There is huge patch of garbage known as Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean.
45. The Pacific Ocean is 15 times larger than America.
Pacific Ocean Facts: 46-50
46. Pacific Ocean can be divided into three ecosystems – coastal ecosystem, coral reef ecosystem, and open ocean ecosystem. These ecosystems host numerous plant and animal species.
47. Pacific Ocean is also the home for a wide range of penguin species including Humboldt, Rockhopper , Crested , Magellanic, Yellow-Eyed and Galapagos penguins.
48. The Manta Ray – known to be the largest of all rays in world is found in the Pacific Ocean. It is found widely around the Coral Reefs. With an average weight of 2,000 pounds, the adult Manta Rays can reach up to 29.5 feet in body length.
49. Pacific Ocean is also the home to world’s second-largest invertebrates – the Giant Squid. The first position is taken by Colossal Squid. Giant Squids are usually found in Northern Pacific close to Japan and they are one of the most elusive of Pacific marine creatures.
50. The Pacific White Sided Dolphin is yet another mammal found in Northern Pacific. With a grey back and a creamy neck and belly, this particular dolphin species is one of the favorite meals of the Killer Whales or the Orcas.
There are many more marine creatures that are found in Pacific Ocean such as the Hammerhead Shark, Stellar Sea Lion, Elephant Seal, Fur Seal, Humpback Whale etc. We cannot really list all of them here. So, we will conclude our list of Pacific Ocean facts here. In case you want to add more points to the list, feel free to drop your message in the comments or send us an email.