|Area||155.557 million sq km|
|Lowest Point||-10,924 m (Challenger Deep)|
The Pacific Ocean is the part of the ocean between the Americas to the east, and Asia, and Australia to the west. The first European to sight the Pacific was Vasco Nuñez de Balboa in 1513. John Keats wrongly recorded this event in his poem On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer, claiming it Cortez who discovered the Ocean. The Pacific Ocean is the world's largest ocean, and one of the fabled "seven seas." Ferdinand Magellan's fleet crossed it on its voyage around the world. Scientists have calculated that it has the same volume as the moon, and some speculate that it may be the crater left when the moon and Earth were separated. This is the so-called "fission" theory.
Pollution problems in the Pacific
As in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans the latitudes between about 35degrees north and south were known in the past as the Horse Latitudes. It is extremely calm there, and so named because sailing ships with diminishing provisions would jettison (or more likely slaughter and eat) horses and other livestock. They are commonly known as the doldrums.
Whatever is dumped into the Pacific ends up in the Horse Latitudes. Because of air heating and cooling at the equator and poles, the wind and currents spiral to the center of this area. The technical name for this atmospheric phenomenon is the subtropical high, and the ocean current it creates is called the north Pacific central or sub-tropical gyre. The result is an area, larger than the USA, full of humanity's rubbish.
Organic debris is broken down by microorganisms, but they cannot deal with plastics, and there is now in this area of water 6 pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton.
Plastic does not biodegrade, it photodegrades. Sunlight gradually breaks it down until it becomes indigestible molecules of plastic. This is a severe environmental hazard for any species in the area. 90% of Hawaiian green sea turtles nest here and eat the debris, Albatrosses are feeding on cigarette lighters and colored plastic pieces can be seen in the bellies of transparent feeding sinophores.
- J. H. Parry: The Age of Reconnaissance