By Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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Additional resources for Britannica Learning Library Volume 02 - Planet Earth
2008 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. OCEANS The World of Water D id you know that nearly three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is underwater? And almost all of that water is in one of the four major oceans. From biggest to smallest the oceans are: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Arctic. Seas, such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, are divisions of the oceans. The oceans are in constant motion. The gravity of the Moon and the Sun pulls on the oceans, causing tides—the regular rising and falling of the ocean along beaches and coastlines.
When Darwin visited the islands, he discovered that there were creatures living there that did not live anywhere else in the world. He saw three-foot-long lizards—land iguanas that looked like small dragons. And he saw amazing One of the many varieties of finches marine iguanas, lizards that had actually learned to on the Galapagos Islands. © Galen Rowell/Corbis swim. He also found a great many birds called “finches” that were all much the same except for differences in their beaks. These differences meant that they all ate different things, which allowed them all to share the same habitat.
Currents are like rivers within the ocean. Some are warm-water currents, which can affect temperatures on land, and some are cold-water currents, which generally flow deeper. Major ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream off the North American coast, also make for faster ocean travel. We know less about the oceans than we do about the Moon. The ocean depths hide dramatic deep trenches and enormous mountain ranges. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge extends for about 10,000 miles. It follows a curving path from the Arctic Ocean to the southern tip of Africa.
Britannica Learning Library Volume 02 - Planet Earth by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.