Teaching Students About the Five Oceans

The five oceans are the Pacific, Atlantic, Southern, Arctic, and Indian. These are large bodies of water that separate the seven continents of Earth. Each ocean has unique properties and, therefore, extraordinary marine life.Top of Form

Let’s break down the five oceans in more detail:

Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean in the world. It is located between the continents of Asia and Australia to the west and the Americas to the east. It covers about 32% of the Earth’s surface and accounts for around 46% of its water surface.

The Pacific Ocean is home to the Mariana Trench in the north-west. This is the deepest point on Earth and reaches 35,853 feet.

It is sadly also home to the great Pacific garbage patch. This area of plastic waste is three times the size of France!

Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean in the world and covers around 20% of the Earth’s surface. It sits between the Americas and Europe, and Africa. Similarly to the Pacific, the Atlantic is split into the North Atlantic and South Atlantic.

The Atlantic Ocean has many places where fish are abundant and is very popular for fishing. The Atlantic is teeming with popular fish such as cod, haddock, plaice, and sole. Some animals, such as the Atlantic ghost crab and the grey Atlantic seal, are unique to the Atlantic.

Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is the third-largest ocean in the world and accounts for roughly 20% of the world’s water surface. Asia surrounds it to the north, Australia to the east, Antarctica to the south, and Africa to the west.

The west of the Indian Ocean is home to the world’s largest phytoplankton concentration. This brings an abundance of marine life to the ocean to feed. The Indian Ocean is one of the most popular fishing spots for tune and shrimp.

Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, surrounds the Antarctic continent. It is the fourth-largest ocean out of the five oceans.

The ocean is home to various animals, including fish, birds, and mammals. Penguins, seals, orcas, and albatrosses are some of the varied animal life.

Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest, shallowest, and coldest of the five oceans. Eurasia and North America surround the Arctic Ocean. The ocean is mainly covered with sea ice throughout the year and almost entirely in the winter.

Many animals are unique to the Arctic Ocean, such as polar bears, beluga, and bowhead whales.

What’s the difference between oceans and seas?

Generally, oceans are much larger than seas. Seas are also enclosed mainly by land or where the land and ocean meet. Some notable seas you may have heard of include the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Dead Sea. You may have heard of the term ‘the seven seas.’ This is an old term used for popular trade routes and bodies of water. There are no actual ‘seven seas.’

To make things even more confusing, the term ‘seven seas’ can refer to the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, South Pacific, North Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern Oceans. However, these are still classed as oceans!

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