With 71% of planet Earth covered in water including lakes, rivers and oceans, you’re bound to run into a coastline eventually. Lucky for us, of the five oceans in the world (the Southern being the latest as of 2000), Tofino and Vancouver Island sit within the waters of the Pacific. So, what do you know about the Pacific Ocean? You’ve probably watched its waves pound against the pristine sand of Tofino’s famous beaches, or maybe even tried to catch one on your surfboard. Maybe you have paddled your way around in a kayak or on a SUP, tasted the salt and snagged dinner from its waters, but what else? Here’s the article to help you out – you never know, next time you’re at a bar trivia night one of these might come up!
- How Big is the Pacific Ocean?
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of all bodies of water on Earth. It is 168,723,000km2 and is the deepest thanks to the Mariana Trench, which is deeper than Mount Everest is tall at 36,074ft. The Pacific represents about 50% of all of the world’s oceanic water.
- How Many Countries have Coasts on the Pacific?
55 countries border the Pacific Ocean. That includes us over here in Canada, as well as places like Australia, Mexico, China and Japan.
- Why “Pacific”?
During the 16th century Vasco Nunez de Balboa caught the first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, which he dubbed the Mar del Sur, meaning Southern Sea. It wasn’t until 1521 that Ferdinand Megellan, a Portuguese Explorer, would re-title it while circumnavigating the world. Apparently, he had great weather and wind while on the Pacific. So, he called it Mar Pacifico, meaning peaceful sea. Anyone who has been to the West Coast during storm season can see the fault in that…
- What about Volcanoes?
Considering the Pacific Ocean contains the Mariana Trench and the Ring of Fire, it should come as no surprise that there are a lot of volcanoes in its waters. Of course, it also sits above the Pacific Plate, which takes up most of the Pacific Ocean’s floor. The point here is that 75% of the world’s active volcanoes are located in the Pacific Ocean.
- Speaking of Plate Tectonics…
Due to the movement of the plates, the Pacific Ocean is actually shrinking. Don’t be alarmed; it’s only at a rate of about half a kilometer per year. However, it’s fun to note the Atlantic grows at the same rate every year.
- What Other Islands are in the Pacific?
Over 25,000 islands, most a lot smaller than Tofino’s homeland of Vancouver Island, are within the Pacific. The majority are South of the equator. They include the mystical Easter Island, the Galapagos Islands and the second largest island in the world, New Guinea.
- Time to go Fishing
The Pacific Ocean is a massive contributor to the world’s economy – nearly 60% of the world’s fish come from its waters. Maybe it’s time to try your hand at fishing while visiting Tofino or Ucluelet?
- More Money
There are a few other ways the Pacific contributes to the economy, some of which are a little surprising. Pearls are harvested from the coasts of Japan, Nicaragua, Panama, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Phillipines and natural gas and petroleum are taken from the continental shelves off of New Zealand and Australia.
- Hot or Cold?
Because the Pacific spans so much territory, it varies greatly in temperature. Near the polar areas it can drop to -1 degrees Celsius (at the surface), but be as toasty as 30 degrees Celsius at the equator.
- More Claims to Fame:
Stretching all the way to Australia gives the Pacific Ocean another bragging right – it contains the world’s longest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef.
These 10 fun facts are only the tip of the iceberg for what there is to discover about the Pacific Ocean. Take some time learning about the creatures particular to our tiny piece of the Pacific and know that this is only the beginning.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk