One of the things that struck me during our trip is just how small we felt. We were on a 50 ft boat that weighed over 26,000 lbs… and yet, when the waves said up, up we went. It made me want to learn more about the Pacific Ocean so I started looking up some interesting facts:
- The deepest ocean trench in the world is located in the Pacific Ocean. Marianas Trench is the deepest at 11,034 meters (35,760 ft), which is more than the height of Mount Everest.
- The longest reef in the world is the Great Barrier Reef, located in the Pacific Ocean off Australia’s coast.
- In the Pacific Ocean is a volcanic island called Krakatoa. In 1883 it erupted and killed over 36,380 people.
- There are 55 countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean including Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Japan, and Mexico.
- The islands in the Pacific Ocean include four different types: continental, coral reefs, high islands, and lifted coral platforms.
- There are more than 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, most of which are located south of the Equator.
- The name Pacific originates from the Latin word ‘pace’ which means peace. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, named the ocean ‘mar pacifico’ in 1521, which means peaceful sea.
- The Pacific Ocean covers 46% of the Earth’s surface. It is shrinking by 1 inch per year due to tectonic plate shifts.
The Pacific Ocean is two times bigger than the Atlantic Ocean and also contains twice the volume of water: 714 million cubic kilometers and covers over 89,000 miles of coastline. It occupies an area of about 161,760,000 square kilometers and includes the Bali Sea, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Coral Sea, the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, and the Tasman Sea.
This year is an El Nino year. What does this mean? Every few years, in the South Pacific, warmer currents occur. This, in turn, causes higher temperatures on the coastlines around Chile and Ecuador. The fluctuations in temperature can be quite small, between 2 or 3 degrees or as much as 10. Depending on how much the temperature rises, it can trigger fluctuations in weather all over the world – and also increase the likelihood of extreme events like tornadoes, earthquakes and storms occurring in those countries which are most prone. The most severe occurrence of this was in 1982 when temperatures in the Pacific rose by 10 degrees. This brought floods to Chile, drought to Australia, severe storms to Canada and typhoons to the islands of the South Pacific.
The salinity of ocean water is variable and depends on three factors: winds, precipitation, and evaporation. High salinity values are when there are more than 35 parts per thousand or 3.5 percent and low values, less than 3.5 percent. Given this information, the lowest salinity is found in the extreme northern areas of the ocean (3.2 percent) and the highest occurs in the southeast, where the water reaches up to 3.7 percent. When there is more rainfall, the salinity decreases and when the evaporation increases the salt concentration increases too. [We felt that the water in Hawaii contained much more salt than Vancouver.]
The temperature of the Pacific Ocean is related to the “layer” of water. Each layer has a different temperature; therefore the lower ones are cooler than, the higher ones. The temperature of the surface layer, which is between 300 and 900 meters, are very different than the temperatures of the deepest layer, which may be near freezing. Average temperatures range between -1.4°C and 30°C, the latter present in areas close to the equator. In general, the North Pacific is warmer than the South Pacific.
In this ocean, there is a lot of volcanic activity and earthquakes because the “Ring of Fire” surrounds it. The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt (Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_of_Fire).
From May to December is the tropical cyclone season in South Asia, and from June to October is hurricane season in the American continent. The North Pacific surface currents move clockwise, while in the South Pacific they move counter clockwise.
Random Animal Fact:
Yeti Crab – The Yeti Crab is one of the most interesting creatures to dwell in the Pacific. It is a most peculiar crustacean, and was only discovered in 2005. It got its name because it does actually look like a Yeti with claws. It was first discovered near the Antarctic Ridge and tends to inhabit the ocean floor. As it cannot see, it is believed that the crab’s hair acts as a sensor so it can be aware of its surroundings. The crab eats mussels, shrimps and other shellfish.
Paragraphs 2-9: retrieved from http://www.softschools.com/facts/geography/pacific_ocean_facts/1082/
Paragraphs 10-15: retrieved from https://www.basicplanet.com/pacific-ocean/
Paragraph 16: retrieved from http://facts.net/pacific-ocean/
Images recovered from Google Images creative commons.