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The ocean floor has an amazing landscape similar to dry land with huge mountains and deep valleys, slopes and plains, trenches and ridges. Through today's technology advances we are able to study the ocean deep and learn about it.
The ocean is consistently moving. Its surface can change from calm and mirror like to wild and treacherous. Most waves at sea are caused by wind. The waves created the gales that blow during a tropical cyclone are 46ft and higher. The largest wave known to have been caused by the wind was 112ft high. Waves can also be created by volcanic eruptions. These waves are known at tsunamis. They are wide columns of water that reach down to the sea floor and can travel for great distances, at the speed of a jet plane. Colliding currents can also change the surface of the ocean. When the tide turns, the opposing currents meet and may create a whirlpool.
Ocean currents are massive bodies of water that travel long distances around the world. Wind is the major force that creates currents. There are seven main ocean currents that move in large, circular streams at a walking pace. In the Northern Hemisphere currents move in a clockwise direction; in the Southern Hemisphere they are counterclockwise. Warm or cold water currents are carried by winds along the shorelines. This affects the climate of the various continents on the way. The current that carries warm water from the Caribbean Sea, up the east coast of the United Stated and then to the west coasts of Britain and Northern Europe is called the Gulf Stream. These areas would be much colder without the Gulf Stream. The "pull" of the moon and the sun also affect the ocean by causing the tides.
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Thousands of beautiful fish and sea creatures live in coral reefs. Polyps or coral animals with soft bodies and mouths build these marine homes in warm shallow seas. They build tube-shaped skeletons of limestone around themselves. They keep dividing in two as the polyps grow upwards. The coral reef is made when they leave their skeletons fused to each other. A film of flesh always forms on top of the skeletons of the living mass of growing polyps. Sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide are the ingredients that the polyps use to make their food. Plant cells provide the food for these coral reefs to grow quickly.
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In the darkness of the ocean floor it is cold and still. The temperature never rises much above freezing. Plants can't grow without sunlight, so there is not much food. Tiny pieces of food that have fallen from the surface of the ocean provide the nutrition for these deep-sea dwellers that filter and sift the ocean floor. There are no waves, so these sea creatures don't need strong skin and bones. Many go slowly through the water because they are blind. In the inky blackness of the ocean floor gigantic sea spiders, gutless worms, and glass rope sponges are some of the unusual creatures that live there.
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The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau
By: Jacques Cousteau
Under the Sea
By: Dr. Frank H. Talbot
· The largest ocean is the Pacific Ocean that covers 65 million square mile and makes up 32% of the Earth's surface.
· The sea gets its salt from rocks on the seabed and from rivers that feed into it. As the sun evaporates the ocean, the salt level builds up.
· The ocean holds 48 billion cubic feet of water.
· The word ocean comes from the Greek word 'okeanos,' which means river.
· The strongest ocean current is the Gulf Stream that carries about 30 billion gallons of water every second.
· If no more water was added to the oceans and it continued to evaporate, it would take 3000 years to dry up.
· The deepest part of the deepest ocean is the Mariana Trench near Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.
· 98% of the ocean bed is still unexplored.
· The biggest fish is the ocean is the whale shark, measuring up to 49 feet (15m) in length.