The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974


Tidbits invites you to dip your toes into these quick facts on the world’s largest ocean.

• Nearly one-third of the Earth’s total surface area is covered by the Pacific Ocean. That’s an area of 65,436,200 square miles, 15 times larger than the area of the United States and larger than the landmass of all the continents of the world put together! The Pacific accounts for 46% of all the Earth’s water surface.

• It’s believed that the Spanish explorer Vasco de Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean in September of 1513, calling it Mar del Sur (Southern sea). Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first to circumnavigate the world, explored the Pacific from 1519 to 1522, and named the body of water Mar Pacifico, which translates “Peaceful Sea.”

• The temperature of the Ocean varies from a low of about 30 degrees F to a high of 86 degrees F near the equator.

• The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. Found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the reef is 1,429 miles long, with about 2,900 individual reefs and more than 1,000 islands. It’s the largest living structure on the planet, the only one which can be seen from space. The reef was discovered in 1770 by English explorer Captain James Cook when his ship ran aground and became stuck on the reef. The reef is made up of 600 types of soft and hard corals, and is home to upwards of 100 species of jellyfish, 3,000 different mollusks, 1,625 varieties of fish, and 133 types of sharks and rays. More than 30 different species of whales and dolphins also live there.

• Fifty-five countries border on the Pacific Ocean, including Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Japan, and Mexico. Indonesia’s 17,508 islands make up a large percentage of the Pacific Ocean’s 25,000+ islands. Japan has another 3,000.

• The average depth of the Pacific Ocean is around 13,500 feet. The Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean, is the deepest part of the world’s oceans. It’s a crescent-shaped trough in the Earth’s crust, measuring 1,580 miles in length and about 43 miles in width, 120 times bigger than the Grand Canyon. At the southern end of the Trench near Guam is a valley in its floor known as the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on the planet. It reaches to a depth of 36,070 feet, a depth that is 1.2 miles greater than the height of Mt. Everest.

• Four descents to the bottom of the Mariana Trench have been achieved, the first, a manned descent in 1960, followed by two unmanned remotely-operated unmanned vehicles in 1996 and 2009, and a manned mission by film director James Cameron in 2012.

• The Pacific Ocean contains 452 volcanoes, 75% of the world’s total, which form a ring around the Pacific Ocean basin which is called the “Ring of Fire.” Volcanic activity contributes to the area’s large number of earthquakes, which can trigger gigantic tsunamis with speeds exceeding 500 mph.

• About 60% of all the fish caught in the world come from the Pacific Ocean.