Our oceans and seas

It’s not just one big blue beyond our shores. Each of our seas and oceans has its own characteristics, which together give us the beating heart of our planet. Tweet us your favourite oceans picture and we’ll share it with ocean lovers around the world.

Oceans

Pacific

The Pacific is the largest of the oceans – reaching from the Arctic at the top, to the Southern Ocean at the bottom. It is bigger than all the land on Earth combined and covers a third of the planet. The ocean was named Mar Pacifico - “peaceful seas” by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Are you from that Pacific? Tweet us your stories and pictures.  Peace is hard to find for the Pacific tuna, under siege from growing fleets, pursuing fast profits and too few fish. Click here to read more about how we can bring the peace back to the Pacific.

Atlantic

The Atlantic Ocean stretches from Europe to the Americas and covers a fifth of our world's surface. The name comes from the Greek "Sea of Atlas" and is named after the mythological giant who held up the world. Attempts to cross the Atlantic include in rowing boats, on bodyboards and by swimming. Have you crossed the Atlantic? Tell us your story. The Atlantic saw one of the most spectacular fish population collapses in modern times. Click here to read how the history of fishing in the Atlantic can teach us what we need to do now so that we have clean and healthy oceans in the future

Rainbow Warrior Leaves New York. 02/03/2012 © Jeff Day / Greenpeace

Indian

Coming in at number three – the Indian Ocean stretches all the way between Asia,  Africa and Australia. In Sanskrit the ocean is called the "mine of gems" and it is easy to see why the warm blue green waters would be so treasured. Have you swum in the Indian Ocean? Share your experience with other ocean defenders.

Being able to sail across the Indian Ocean gave early traders routes from Europe to Asia and early colonizers new territories to grab. The fishing industry is carrying on that tradition of plunder. Click here to find out what is being done to save this gem.


Southern

The Southern Ocean is the "newest" ocean – having only been officially designated in 2000. Some still argue that it is an extension of the Pacific, Atlantic and India oceans, as there is no land to demarcate the boundary, only the 60 degree latitude line on a map. But sailors will tell you that when you arrive at the Antarctic Convergence – the point at which the cold waters of the south meet the warm waters coming from the north – you can often even see the line in the waves and you know you are entering new and wild waters. Have you seen that wild side? Share you photos and stories. The Southern Ocean, like its polar opposite, is one of the last great wildernesses. Click here to find out how we can all help to keep the south wild. 

Arctic

The smallest of all our oceans, but one of the most powerful drivers of our weather and currents. In winter it used to be entirely iced over, but the frozen north is becoming rapidly warmer because of climate change. The Greeks named the region after the Aktos star constellation – now known as “The Great Bear”. The great bears of the Arctic – the increasingly endangered polar bears  - live only in this region and together  with many other species are totally dependent on the sea ice.  These animals rely on this icy world staying cold in order to survive. Join the movement to save the Arctic.

Seas

Mediterranean

If it were not for a 14 km wide channel at the Straits of Gibraltar, leading out to the Atlantic, the Mediterranean would be a massive lake. It is rather apt then that its name comes from Latin, meaning "in the middle of the land". It has had many other names -in Hebrew it is "Middle Sea" and in ancient Arabic the "White Sea". We think the Romans got it right in calling it Mare Nostrum – "Our Sea".  What does the Mediterranean means to you?  Being so enclosed gives the Mediterranean very special characteristics and very special needs. Click here to find out what the future of Our Sea could look like.

Starfish in the Mediterranean Sea. 07/28/2009 © Greenpeace / Gavin Parsons

 

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