Overview

If you had to draw the boundaries of the Earth's oceans on a map, would you be able to? The answer is no—because there is really only one "world ocean." Oceanographers have divided the world ocean into four principal areas, or basins: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic Ocean basins. The Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Ocean basins merge into icy waters around Antarctica. Some oceanographers define this as a fifth ocean, usually called the Antarctic or Southern Ocean basin.

 

This video focuses on the Pacific Ocean basin and is taken from the interactive online game, My Ocean. Test your ocean knowledge and learn about the different basins of the world ocean by playing here.

Fast Facts

  • Covering one third of Earth's surface, the Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world.
  • The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is a slowly moving, clockwise spiral of currents that takes up about three times the area of the continental United States. It is the site of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a concentration of trash between California and Hawaii that covers an area roughly twice the size of Texas.
  • The Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef system in the world, is found in the Pacific Ocean. It is located off the northeastern coast of Australia and is made up of 2,900 individual reef ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef is so large that it can be seen from space.
  • The Pacific Ocean is home to many hydrothermal vents. Hydrothermal vents are a type of deep-sea ecosystem that form around a fissure, or crack, in the Earth's surface between two tectonic plates. Large chimneys grow very quickly at these vents. The chimneys are created from dissolved metals that form into particles when the super-hot vent water meets the surrounding deep ocean water, which is very cold. One of the largest known chimneys was called "Godzilla." It reached the height of a 15-story building before it fell.
  • The deepest known point in the ocean, the Mariana Trench, is found in the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 11.3 kilometers (7 miles) deep, the Mariana Trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall. This means that if Mount Everest sat at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, its peak would not break the surface of the water.

For Further Exploration

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

depth

Noun

measure of how deep something is.

Mariana Trench

Noun

deepest place on Earth, located in the South Pacific Ocean at 11,000 meters (36,198 feet) at its deepest.

ocean

Noun

large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

Encyclopedic Entry: ocean

Pacific Ocean

Noun

one of Earth's four oceans, bordered by North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Antarctica.

Credits

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Writer

Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society

Editors

Marshall Daly, National Geographic Society
Mary Ford, National Geographic Society
Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Other

Narrator: Enric Sala
Audiovisual: Steven Pickard
Scripts/Support: John Grotland, Barrett Worthington

User Permissions

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service.

If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact natgeocreative@ngs.org for more information and to obtain a license.

If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page.

Media

Some media assets (videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs) can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner (download) of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.

Interactives

Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.