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5 Pretty Awesome Facts About the Pacific Ocean

All the world's existing continents have a combined surface area of about 57 million square miles (148 million square kilometers). The Pacific Ocean covers even more ground, ahem, water. At 60 million square miles (155 million square kilometers), it blankets more than 30 percent of Earth's surface.

1. It's One of Five Recognized Oceans

When we talk about the Pacific, we're discussing a major subset of the "World" or "Global" Ocean. That's the great, interconnected body of seawater covering 71 percent of Earth's outer surface. Geographers and scientists divide this into five major sections. Among them, the Pacific Ocean is the largest, followed by the Atlantic, Indian, Southern and Arctic oceans.

2. Magellan Coined the Name

Born in 1480, the Portuguese navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan would go on to sail between the southernmost tip of mainland South America and the Tierra Del Fuego archipelago. Now called the "Strait of Magellan," that expanse is an Atlantic-Pacific connection point. In late 1520, Magellan entered the vast ocean to the west of the Americas. He described the calm waters he found there as "pacific" (i.e., "peaceful"), and the rest is history.

3. It Holds a Lot of Water

Humans can't survive without shelter, food and fresh water. Unfortunately, the latter is kind of rare in the grand scheme. You see, fresh water makes up just 3 percent of our planet's total water supply. And most of that is currently trapped in glaciers and ice caps.

The remaining 97 percent of Earth's water resides within the oceans and their seas. These bodies don't get equal shares, by the way. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the Pacific encompasses 49.4 percent of all the water in our Global Ocean.

4. Mauna Kea in the Pacific Is Earth's Tallest Mountain

Mount Everest gets all the attention, but the Himalayan landmark is significantly shorter than Mauna Kea, an inactive Hawaiian volcano. Whereas Everest is 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) tall from its base to its peak, Mauna Kea is 33,500 feet (10,210 meters) in height.

Here's the catch: A large percentage of Mauna Kea lies below sea level. Meanwhile, Everest stands high and dry atop the world's biggest continent — so its snowy summit occupies a much higher altitude. Perspective matters.

5. It Was Home to a Weird Group of Herbivores.

Where the extinct desmostylians fit into the tree of life is still up for debate. Though they looked a bit like hippos, experts think they were more closely akin to elephants or horses. For millions of years, the semi-aquatic herbivores ate kelp and seagrass in the northern Pacific; their remains have yet to be found anywhere else.

The 13 to 14 known desmostylian species made up a distinct order of mammals. After first appearing 33 million years ago, the beasts died out in the late Miocene Epoch, about 10 million years before the present. So far as we know, they were the only major marine mammal order to vanish entirely.

Content created and supplied by: Bobbynews (via Opera News )

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