Top 7 Ocean Facts for Kids
Updated: Jun 21
What better way to celebrate World Ocean Day than to learn a few quick ocean facts? Here’s our list of questions and answers, curated with kids in mind.
1. How deep is the ocean?
The average depth of the ocean is about 12,100 feet – a bit more than two miles. But here’s the deal: There’s a dent in the floor of the Pacific Ocean where it’s much, much deeper! It’s called the Mariana Trench, and at that point, the ocean is seven miles deep. Because it’s so deep, it’s completely dark. Temperatures are just above freezing. The water pressure is intense enough to crush you. And only bacteria and small invertebrates can survive at its deepest spot. How mysterious and interesting is that?
2. How big is the ocean?
Oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface. And they contain a whopping 1.3 billion cubic km of water. To put that in perspective, ONE cubic km is 1000 metres long, 1000 metres wide, and 1000 metres deep. The human eye can see about 5 km – so that’s 200 times as far as you can see in any direction. And that’s for ONE cubic km, not 1.3 billion! And here’s another interesting fact. More than 70 percent of the earth’s oxygen is produced by the ocean and the tiny, microscopic plants that live in it.
You’ve probably heard of the “seven seas” – but it’s hard to make the number add up to seven. There are four oceans – the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. Or five, if you count the Southern Ocean, as most countries now do. And how many seas? And what IS a sea anyway? Seas are smaller, and usually located where lands and oceans meet. There are about 50 seas in the world, although some are also called bays or lakes. Maybe we talk about seven seas because there are seven continents? Who knows!
Not only do oceans (and plankton) produce more than half of the world’s oxygen, but they also regulate the world’s climate by transporting heat from the equator to the poles. Oceans provide food – and not just seafood, but ingredients that show up in foods such as peanut butter. Oceans give us medicine. We travel on them, swim and play on them, and many people around the world work in jobs that depend on them.
5. What are the weirdest sea creatures?
Like beauty, “weird” is in the eye of the beholder. But here are a bunch of top contenders, thanks to National Geographic for Kids. There’s the Leafy Sea Dragon Fish that can fool predators because it looks just like seaweed. There’s the Red Handfish that walks along the ocean floor using fins that look a lot like human hands. And there’s the Wobbegong, a member of the “carpet shark” family. With tassels hanging from its body, the wobbegong looks like a ratty old piece of carpet. Weird, huh?
6. Why is there so much ocean trash?
Eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year! If we don’t change this, there will soon be more plastic than fish. Where does all this plastic come from? Single-use plastic is a big part of the problem – plastic bags, bottles, straws, and wrappers. Wind, rain and floods can carry these lightweight plastics into the sea. Oil is another culprit– not just oil spills, but also oil from cars and trucks that washes from our roads into our oceans.
Container ships also dump pollution into our ports, and spew enormous amounts of greenhouse gas, contaminating the air as well as the sea.
7. How can kids help with ocean conservation?
The good news is that there are plenty of ways people – and kids!—can pitch in to help the ocean. The Kids Conservation Zone offers lots of educational info, videos, a downloadable colouring sheet, and games, including a rubbish hunt. Parents can get involved by signing the David Suzuki Foundation petition to protect coastal waterways. And anyone can contribute by saying bye-bye to single use plastic!
Kids can also get “ocean inspired” by reading Water, the first book in the Secrets of the Under-Under World series. Here, Sam worries about ocean plastics, loss of salmon spawning streams, and pollution. But she doesn’t give up. She and her friends battle to save the world’s water supply – and ultimately win.
LEARN MORE about Water now