The vastness of the world’s water bodies has always been a topic of fascination and wonder. Throughout history, humans have explored and studied these great expanses of water, each with its own unique features and characteristics. Among them are the world’s oceans, which play a vital role in supporting life on Earth. However, not all bodies of water can be classified as oceans. In this article, we will explore which body of water is not classified as an ocean and provide some insights into its characteristics, location, and importance.
Definition of an Ocean
An ocean is a vast body of saltwater that covers most of the Earth’s surface. Oceans are the largest water bodies on the planet and are connected to each other, forming a continuous body of water. They are characterized by their immense size, depth, and complexity, with a range of physical and biological features that make them unique ecosystems. Oceans are also important for regulating the Earth’s climate and weather patterns, providing food and resources for humans and other organisms, and supporting a diverse array of marine life.
The Five Oceans
The world’s oceans are divided into five major bodies of water, each with its own distinct characteristics and features. These are the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans. The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean and is located between South America, Africa, Europe, and North America. The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean and stretches from the eastern coast of Asia to the western coast of the Americas. The Indian Ocean is the third-largest ocean and is bordered by Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Indian subcontinent. The Southern Ocean is the smallest and the youngest ocean and is located around the continent of Antarctica. The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest ocean and is located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, around the North Pole.
The Not-Ocean Body of Water
The body of water that is not classified as an ocean is the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea is a large inland sea that is almost completely enclosed by land. It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa. Despite its size, the Mediterranean Sea is not classified as an ocean due to its distinct features and characteristics that set it apart from the world’s oceans.
Location of the Not-Ocean Body of Water
The Mediterranean Sea is located between Europe, Africa, and Asia, extending from the Strait of Gibraltar in the west to the Suez Canal in the east. It is bordered by several countries, including Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia.
Size of the Not-Ocean Body of Water
The Mediterranean Sea is approximately 2.5 million square kilometers in size, making it the 18th largest body of water in the world. It has an average depth of 1,500 meters, with a maximum depth of 5,267 meters in the Calypso Deep, located off the coast of Greece.
Characteristics of the Not-Ocean Body of Water
The Mediterranean Sea is characterized by its warm, saline water, which is the result of its semi-enclosed nature and limited exchange with the Atlantic Ocean. It is also known for its complex ecosystem, with a diverse array of marine life, including over 7,000 species of plants and animals. The Mediterranean Sea is also an important center of trade and commerce, with many major ports and shipping lanes located along its shores.
Similarities with Oceans
Despite its unique characteristics, the Mediterranean Sea shares many similarities with the world’s oceans. Like the oceans, it provides a habitat for a diverse array of marine life, supports important economic activities, and plays a vital role in regulating the Earth’s climate and weather patterns.
Differences from Oceans
The Mediterranean Sea differs from the world’s oceans in several important ways. Unlike the oceans, it is largely enclosed by land, with limited exchange with other bodies of water. It also has a higher salinity due to its limited exchange with the Atlantic Ocean and lack of major freshwater inputs. Additionally, the Mediterranean Sea has a different circulation pattern than the oceans, with a surface current flowing westward and a deep current flowing eastward.
Importance of the Not-Ocean Body of Water
The Mediterranean Sea is an important body of water, with significant ecological, economic, and cultural value. It is home to a diverse array of marine life, supports important economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and plays a vital role in the history and culture of the Mediterranean region. However, the Mediterranean Sea is also facing significant challenges, including pollution, overfishing, and climate change, which threaten its health and sustainability.
The world’s oceans and other large bodies of water are fascinating and complex ecosystems that are vital for supporting life on Earth. While the Mediterranean Sea is not classified as an ocean, it is an important and unique body of water that plays a vital role in the ecology, economy, and culture of the Mediterranean region and beyond. By understanding the distinct features and characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea, we can better appreciate the diversity and complexity of the world’s water bodies and work to protect and conserve them for future generations.
- NOAA. (n.d.). Ocean Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/ocean/
- National Geographic. (n.d.). Mediterranean Sea. Retrieved from
- UNESCO. (2016). State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000244544