O is for Oceans

This post was inspired by an episode of the TV show JEOPARDY! Specifically, April 4, 2011 final. The category was WORLD GEOGRAPHY: “These 3 nations each border the world’s largest & smallest oceans.”

I must admit that I sussed out the answer immediately. From the responses, however, it was clear that none of the contestant knew a key element of the clue. One response was India and Sri Lanka; another Australia, Papau New Guinea and Borneo; and the third, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

So, what ARE the largest and smallest oceans in the world?

The largest, by a considerable margin, is the Pacific Ocean, with 64,186,000 square miles (166.241 million sq km). But you all knew that, didn’t you?
The second largest, of course, is the Atlantic Ocean, with 33,420,000 square miles (86.557 million sq km); I wasn’t aware of such a disparity of size between the Pacific and Atlantic.
The third largest is the Indian Ocean, at 28,350,000 square miles (73.426 million sq km). This, clearly, is the ocean that the contestants thought was the smallest; not so.

The fourth largest is the Southern Ocean at 7,848,300 square miles (20.327 million sq km). WHAT? I never heard of it! It wasn’t in my fourth grade geography book. “Until the year 2000, there were four recognized oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic. In the Spring of 2000, the International Hydrographic Organization delimited a new ocean, the Southern Ocean (it surrounds Antarctica and extends to 60 degrees latitude).”
The smallest ocean, then, has to be the Arctic Ocean at 5,106,000 square miles (13.224 million sq km).

So, if the largest ocean is the Pacific, and the smallest the Arctic, what three countries border both?

While you think about it, a bit about oceans: The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored.

Obviously, the bordering nations have to be large, northern countries. Two immediately came to mind: Russia and Canada. What’s the third? The United States! Specifically Alaska. (The Pacific is at the top of this map, with North America to the left and Asia to the right.)

Interestingly, the first contestant started writing US, Canada and Mexico, bailed, and went with the answer shown. Even though I knew the answer to the question, I learned something too from this exercise!

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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33 thoughts on “O is for Oceans

  1. We form a peninsula and different kind of water bodies surround us on three sides!! A lot of water all around, and yet we have to suffer drought conditions in some regions!!

  2. Brilliant choice for letter O. When I think about the ocean, it always reminds me of the tidal wave that hit us over years ago that left us nothing but our clothes in our body.

  3. I didn’t know either that there was a new ocean added to the ones we had. That is very interesting! We learn a lot from your posts, Roger!
    Thanks for your visit and comment. Do you still join a choir?

  4. And Roger, did you know that all these oceans are actually ONE OCEAN because they all touch each other! I learned that when I had to teach a unit on Oceanography to my fourth graders. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Leslie
    abcw team

  5. I was never any good at Jeopardy, and I’m still not! But I really ace Wheel of Fortune.
    Seriously, Roger, although I knew the Pacific was largest, then the Atlantic, I wouldn’t have thought of the polar oceans.
    Thanks for an interesting post, even if it serves to prove I’m dumb as a post. :o)

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittieโ€™s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. I too had not heard of the Southern Ocean (a rather Odd shape, I’d say). AND I did not know the Pacific was so much larger than the Atlantic. When you revealed the answer for the smallest ocean (Artic), then I knew the countries (US, Russia, Canada) bordering the largest (Pacific) and smallest (Arctic). Outstanding trivia, Roger! PS. I would suck at Jeopardy… my brain works too slowly in retrieving the info files… or stated another way: I have bad recall, yet pretty good recognition. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Great post. I love geography — also Jeopardy. I wish I could have seen you compete. I would never compete on Jeopardy, I know next to nothing about sports and very little about American history, I’m ashamed to say.

  8. Hi Roger,
    I am one who remembers your outstanding skills from Jeopardy! This is one answer I would have been able to answer the question for. There’s a vast “ocean” of knowledge I would have sunk in shame. Swimmingly refreshing post for ABC wed.

  9. OOOOOOOOPs (notice all the O’s)That’s what happens when I speed read carelessly.
    Nope, I would have gotten the answer wrong. I, too, thought the Indian Ocean was the smallest and never heard of the Southern.

  10. Bang me on the head. Above I meant Arctic. Wouldn’t have known the countries. Today I obviously should not be typing comments until I edit them!

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