The sea is the most obvious feature of the earth's surface.
Approximately seventy percent of this surface is covered by water, in one way or
another. Beneath this water are the familiar sands of the beaches, bottoms of
bays, and the inshore ocean. Farther offshore this water covers an amazing
submarine topography of underwater canyons, trenches, mountains, and plains.
Unlike the continents, which are physically separated from one another, the
oceans are continuous and interconnected. Since the "world ocean is
continuous"(M.J. Keen) it has similar characteristics throughout. In the early
1870s oceanographers collected seawater samples from all of the seas of the
world at a variety of depths. When analyzed, the samples were found to have
quite similar characteristics. These findings convinced many that a method of
study was needed. The study of oceans was named oceanography.
Density, salinity, and temperature are very important concepts in the
study of oceanography. The salinity and temperature of the water influence its
density, and the differences in density are the major factor in understanding
the formation of currents and the positions of water masses in the sea. In
addition, temperature and salinity play major roles in influencing the
distribution of plants and animals.
The sediments of the sea floor may be divided into lithogenous,
hydrogenous, biogenous, and cosmogenous sediments. Lithogenous sediments are
the major sediments on the ocean floor. They are derived from the chemical and
mechanical weathering of rocks. Biogenous sediments are composed primarily of
the protective outter covering of small marine animals and plants. If these
remains comprise at least thirty percent of the sediment it is called an "ooze".
"Oozes" were named for the types of organisms that formed them. Hydrogenous
sediments form as a result of the chemical reactions that occur in the seawater.
These reactions result in the formation of small particles, which are deposited
on the sea floor. Currents move these particles and cause them to collide with
the other particles. If many of these collisions occur they may form nodules.
Nodules are found on some portions of the deep-sea floor. The sediment type
frequently determines the type of organ...
... middle of paper ...
...discarge of oil from
ships, and the development of emergency response systems to oil pollution
accidents have contributed to the decline of ship-based souces of oil pollution
over the last two decades. The moratorium on dumping of radioactive waste at
sea under the London Dumping Convention also represents another response to
concerns about the risks posed by such diposal. Some regions have concluded
agreement which ban dumping of any radioactive waste at sea. In the
Mediterranean and Red Sea, all discharge of oily wasted from ships is also
The differences between terrestial regions are well known. Less well
known are the features that distingush the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean, or
the coast of South America from those of Southern Africa. Regardless of this,
the various regions of the world's oceans are all affected by human activity,
with pollution and harvesting of resouces of resouces being common to all seas
and oceans. The various marine resources, as well as the extent of human
impacts on them, are examined region by region, illustrating hos stresses on the
marine environmet treatened the very resistance of some habitats and species.
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