The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean on the planet, covering over thirty-five percent of the Earth’s surface. That’s more than all of the Earth’s land put together!
Spanish explorers first saw the Eastern shore of the Pacific when they crossed Panama in 1513. In 1512, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, gave it its current name when he tried to sail around the world. When he reached this ocean, he was greeted by calm waters and soft winds, so called it “Mar Pacifico,” or the Peaceful Sea. Of course, it does have storms and tsunamis, like any other ocean would.
The Pacific Ocean sits over a large tectonic plate, called the Pacific plate. Along the edges of this plate are faults that can cause severe earthquakes in California and Japan. These edges also feature hundreds of volcanoes in a circle known as the Ring of Fire. Because of all these volcanoes, the Pacific Ocean has over 25,000 islands, more than any other ocean.
The Pacific Ocean also has the world’s deepest point - 35,797 feet down - inside the Mariana Trench. This is further under the sea than Mount Everest is high above the Earth.
© ProjectExplorer.org, 2012.