Some ancient civilizations used the phrase “seven
describe the bodies of water known at that time. The ancient
Romans called the lagoons separated from the open sea near Venice
the septem maria or seven seas. Most current sources state that "seven
seas" referred to the Indian
Ocean, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Adriatic Sea, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean
Sea, and the Red Sea.
Not all geographers agree on this list of seven, believing
that the seven seas reference will be different depending upon
the part of the world and the time period in question.
Some geographers point to the Age of Discovery and suggest that
the seven seas represent the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian
Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, and the
Gulf of Mexico.
Other geographers state that the seven seas were the Mediterranean
and Red Seas, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, China Sea, and the West
and East African Seas.
Today we recognize more than 50 seas worldwide. A sea is defined
as a division of the ocean which is enclosed or partially enclosed
by land. With that said, the Caspian Sea, Dead Sea, and Aral Sea
are actually saltwater lakes, because they lack an outlet to the
ocean. Conversely, by this definition, the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson
Bay are seas.
Interesting Sea Facts:
- The largest sea is the Bering Sea at 876,000 sq. miles or 2,270,000
- The saltiest sea in the world is the Red Sea
with 41 parts of salt per 1,000 parts of water.
- The warmest
sea in the world is the Red Sea, where temperatures range from
68 degrees to 87.8 degrees F depending upon which part
- The coldest seas are found near the poles such
as the Greenland, Barents, Beaufort, Kara, Laptev and East
Siberian Seas found near
the north pole and Weddell and Ross Seas found in the south
poles. The Baltic Sea is also considered one of the coldest seas.
upon the amount of salt in the water, sea water freezes at
about 28 degrees F. High salt content lowers the temperature
for freezing and low salt content raises the temperature for freezing.
Exploration and Research - “NOAA's OER is the only federal organization dedicated to exploring the global ocean. OER works with partners to explore the ocean to make discoveries of scientific, economic, and cultural value; support innovations in exploration tools and capabilities; and encourage the next generation of ocean explorers, scientists, and engineers to pursue careers in ocean exploration and related fields.”
Atlas of the Oceans - “The UN Atlas of the
Oceans is an Internet portal providing information
relevant to the sustainable development of
the oceans. It is designed for policy-makers who need to
become familiar with ocean issues and for scientists, students
and resource managers who need access to databases and
approaches to sustainability. The UN Atlas can also provide
the ocean industry and stakeholders with pertinent information
on ocean matters.”
- What are the Seven Seas? - The origins of the phrase 'Seven Seas' can be traced to ancient times. From NOAA’s National Ocean Service.
Donald G. The oceans: a book of questions and answers.
New York, Wiley, 1989. 203 p.
Robert. The ocean almanac. Garden City, NY,
Doubleday, 1984. 446 p.
Bernard L., comp. Man and the sea: Classic accounts
of marine explorations. Garden City, NY, Published
for the American Museum of Natural History by The Natural
History Press, 1970. 498 p.
J. H. The discovery of the sea. Berkeley, University
of California Press, c1981. 279 p.
Thomas E., and Patricia Barnes-Svarney. The handy
ocean answer book. Detroit, Invisible Ink, 2000.
more print resources...
Search on "discoveries
in geography history", "ocean" (or the names of
oceans, such as "Arctic Ocean" or "Pacific Ocean"), "oceanography", "ocean
or "seafaring life"
in the Library of Congress Online
Sea surface temperature, December 2003
From Data & Images, Earth Observatory, NASA
The great sea
serpent. The sea serpent when first seen from HMS DAEDALUS
Ben Turpin at
edge of surf with two bathing beauties. Prints & Photographs
Division, Library of Congress