An ocean is a body of saline water that composes much of a planet’s hydrosphere. On Earth, an ocean is one of the major conventional divisions of the World Ocean, which covers almost 71% of its surface. These are, in descending order by area, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans. The word sea is often used interchangeably with “ocean” in American English but, strictly speaking, a sea is a body of saline water partly or fully enclosed by land.
Saline water covers approximately 72% of the planet’s surface and is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas, with the ocean covering approximately 71% of Earth’s surface and 90% of the Earth’s biosphere. The ocean contains 97% of Earth’s water, and oceanographers have stated that less than 5% of the World Ocean has been explored. The total volume is approximately 1.35 billion cubic kilometers with an average depth of nearly 3,700 meters.
As the world ocean is the principal component of Earth’s hydrosphere, it is integral to all known life, forms part of the carbon cycle, and influences climate and weather patterns. The world ocean is the habitat of 230,000 known species, but because much of it is unexplored, the number of species that exist is much larger, possibly over two million.