Many of us feel a sense of liberation and affinity when we’re in the water! It’s no surprise that waterfront activities are some of the most popular at summer camps across the country. Water is certainly a major part of our world. For starters, it’s essential to life on this planet. Our bodies are made of roughly 60% water. And 71% of our planet surface itself is covered in water.
It’s kind of a big deal…
And because it’s such a big deal, we dedicate a day—this day—to the oceans of the world; today is Ocean Day. Featuring more water than it does dry land, the earth presents to us a handful of oceans. An ocean is the term we hold for the largest body of water.
There are four to seven oceans on our planet (depending on who you ask). The numbers aren’t changing so much as our classifications. When I attended grade school, I was taught that there were four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic.
The Pacific and Atlantic are the biggest oceans and have both been unofficially split up by northern and southern hemispheres which, to some perspectives, adds two more oceans to the count; so the list looks like this: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic (coming in at six).
It was 18 years ago in 2000 when the Southern Ocean was officially recognized as the world’s latest ocean. Constituted of the all the earth’s water below the 60° latitude line, the Southern Ocean brings the count to either five or seven depending on how you feel about splitting up the Pacific and Atlantic.
I myself don’t understand why we want to adjust our count of the oceans—after all, even the count of four that I’m familiar with is really just one. All of these gigantic bodies connect to one another. None of them are actually divided by anything aside from human designation. There’s nothing stopping Atlantic Ocean water from flowing into the Pacific territory.
And at certain points throughout the earth’s history, the ocean waters were even less obviously divided than they are today due to supercontinent formations such as Pangea and Gondwana.
Enjoy looking into this subject matter for yourself and put in your own two cents. Do you think we should have kept it to four oceans? Does the Southern Ocean make a sensical fifth ocean for earth? Maybe you agree with splitting them up into seven OR maybe you’re with me and think we should call it all one. Just…The Ocean. Let us know what you think. Happy Ocean Day and, as always, thanks for reading!