12 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About the World's Oceans

12 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About the World’s Oceans

It’s a well known fact that the majority of our planet’s surface is covered by oceans. Despite this, we have only managed to explore a relatively small percentage of it. In fact, more than 70% of the world’s oceans are yet to be explored.

While scientists, adventure seekers and ocean enthusiasts search and examine this vast and mysterious place, we continue to uncover facts previously unknown to mankind. For instance, did you know that the ocean waves can move at hundreds of miles per hour? Or that the oceans depths are home to millions of tons of gold? So, take a deep breath and join us as we dive into the depths to explore some incredible things about the world’s oceans.




1. The oceans basically keep the internet online.

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Image: Giga Khurtsilava

While we live in a world of wireless communication, 99% of international data is transmitted by wires at the bottom of the oceans, with the help of submarine communications cables. These cables are hundreds of thousands of miles long and according to MentalFloss, they can be as deep as the height of Mt. Everest. Installing the cables requires special boats called cable-layers and extreme care is required during the process. Some parts of the cables are also shark-proof, since they have been known to chew on them.

2. There are more than 20 million tons of untouchable gold in the oceans.

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Image: Jordan Steranka

It is true that there is gold in the world’s oceans, but, it is so diluted that its concentration is on the order of parts per trillion. According to one study, there’s about one gram of gold for every 100 million metric tons of ocean water in the Atlantic and north Pacific. There is also undissolved gold a mile or two underwater. While you might be able to reach the ocean floor and discover the gold, the process to extract it from the ocean floor would be too expensive, making it worthless.




3. Point Nemo in the southern Pacific Ocean is the most remote location on planet Earth.

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Image: Timwi

Point Nemo is unlike any other place in the world, since it is literally “the middle of nowhere”. According to scientists, Point Nemo is the most remote location on Earth, and that at any given time, the closest humans are astronauts. Also known as “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility”, the spot is quite literally the middle of nowhere as it is surrounded by more than 1,000 miles of ocean in every direction.

4. Oceans produce 70-85% of the oxygen supply in the atmosphere.

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Image: Marek Okon

Scientists agree that there’s oxygen from ocean plants in one in every five breaths a human will take. Most of the Earth’s oxygen comes from tiny ocean plants, called phytoplankton. While scientists know that phytoplankton contribute between approximately 70 to 85% of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, it’s hard to determine the exact amount. This is because scientists are able to determine how much oxygen is produced by a single phytoplankton cell but the amount of phytoplankton cells throughout Earth’s oceans varies.

5. More than half of the United States exists below the ocean.

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Image: NASA

It might be surprising to hear that more than 50% of our nation lies underwater. One might wonder how that’s possible. Well, according to CBS News, the borders of our country don’t stop where the land ends; they expand 200 nautical miles away from shore. Those 200 nautical miles stretching out from the U.S. coasts are known as the “unknown America”. (source)




6. You can’t drink sea water, but you can drink sea ice.

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Image: Pixabay

Sea ice, mostly found in the remote polar oceans, covers about about two-and-a-half times the area of Canada. Basically, sea ice is frozen ocean water, which forms, grows, and melts in the ocean. According to the NSIDC, you should never drink fresh sea ice since it contains little pockets of brine trapped inside. Multiyear ice on the other hand contains less brine, and becomes fresh enough, that the NSIDC suggests that it can be melted and consumed. (source)

7. We don’t know much about most of the marine life.

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Image: Marat Gilyadzinov

When it comes to learning about the different marine life the world’s oceans contain, size and water pressure limits our exploration abilities. Scientists estimate that until now, we have only discovered one-third of the potential marine life in the oceans. While the majority of marine life that are yet to be discovered are thought to be smaller organisms, scientists do hope that there are whales or even mammals that have existed since pre-historic times.

8. We know more about mars than we do about our own oceans.

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Image: Pixabay

Scientists aren’t even close to having fully mapped Earth’s seafloor. In fact, according to NASA, only between 5 to 15 percent of the ocean’s depths had been surveyed by traditional sonar techniques. Not only is the process expensive, but it’s also time consuming. Despite the fourth planet from the sun being 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) from Earth, we have better maps of Mars than we do of the world’s oceans. (source)




9. There’s an area in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean where sharks hang around during winter months.

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Image: Gerald Schömbs

In 2012, scientists studying the migration patterns of the Great White Shark discovered that there’s an area in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean, where they like to hang out during winter months. Nicknamed White Shark Café, it’s located partway between Baja California and Hawaii. The sharks get together to enjoy the warm coastal weather and, according to scientists, some even stay there for months. (source)

10. Most of the ocean is pitch black.

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Image: Blaque X

Under the right conditions, sunlight may travel about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the ocean. In most cases however, light does not travel beyond 200 meters (656 feet). The upper 200 meters of the ocean is called the euphotic, or “sunlight,” zone and beyond this depth, no light passes through, causing the zone to be in total darkness. (source)

11. “The Bloop” was one of the loudest underwater sounds ever recorded and scientists don’t know what caused it.

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Image: NOAA

In 1997, scientists accidentally recorded something they couldn’t explain; a strange and exceptionally loud noise. Known as “the bloop”, it was one of the loudest underwater sounds ever recorded. In fact, the noise was so loud, hydrophones more than three thousand miles apart all captured the same noise. Even today, researchers who recorded the bloop, couldn’t figure out the source of the sound. (source)

12. The oceans are capable of powering our homes.

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Image: Tim Marshall

Today, scientists are working on harnessing tidal power, and making it a viable energy source. The IEA predicts that by 2050, ocean energy might produce up to 337 GW of power. According to the UK Marine Foresight Panel, if we could capture just 0.1% of the total of the ocean’s kinetic energy caused by tides, we could satisfy the current global energy demand five times over. (source)




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