About one third’s of earth’s surface is covered by the deepest and largest ocean, the Pacific Ocean, covering 1181,300,000 sq. km. The Pacific Ocean’s southern part is known by the name of the South Sea. The Pacific Ocean derives its name from the Latin Tepre Pacificum, meaning “peaceful sea”, bequeathed to it by the Portuguese traveler and explorer, Ferdinand Magellan.
The Pacific Ocean’s floor has a depth of 4,300m average and is mostly a deep-sea plain. The maximum known depth of 10,911.5m is located in the Challenger Deep. The ocean is characterized by the plains rising into volcanic swells, guyots and seamounts.
The explorer from Spain, Ferdinand Magellan, when he came across this vast sheet of water during his voyages named it as the Pacific Ocean.
The islands situated in the south and west of the Pacific were inhabited by Asian wanderers who explored the seas, crossing huge distances in the open ocean, in archaic boats. Marco Polo and other European explorers had hinted its existence around late 15th Century; commercial traders sailed around Africa to the ocean’s western edge, though the first distinguishing recognition of the Pacific, distinct from Atlantic Ocean came only when Balbao sighted the Ocean’s eastern shore in 1513.
In 1520-21 Spanish explorer, Magellan crossed the Philippines initiated a chain of explorations, which included huge areas, from Bering to Vancouver. By the end of 18th century, he had discovered the major coastlines. It was the Spanish and Portuguese who dominated the Pacific Ocean in 16th Century, and by the 17th English and Dutchmen took over, and in 18th Century the Japanese and Germans sailed through the Pacific Ocean, establishing their supremacy, while it was only in the 19th Century the American whalers and Sealers sailed towards the Pacific Ocean. The Yankee explorers entered the Pacific trades in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century.
The Pacific Ocean covers a huge area, extending from the Arctic to Antarctic expanse between South and North America on the eastern side, while on the west, Australia and Asia. It is in the Pacific Ocean the International Date Line passes through. Bering Strait connects the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean, and the Drake Passage links it with Atlantic Ocean, as also the Magellan Strait and the Panama Canal; Malay Archipelago connects it with the Indian Ocean, through its passages between Antarctica and Australia.
The coastline from deep seafloor rises into the heights of mountains on land, along the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean, along with a narrow continental shelf. Comparatively the Asian coastline of the Pacific Ocean is low, indented and on the fringes of which islands rise through a wide continental shelf. There are volcanic series, the Circum-Pacific Ring of Fire, edging the basin of the Pacific Ocean.
In the Pacific Ocean, major oceans currents form huge whirls, which are found near the southern and northern equator, separated by the Equatorial Counter Currents. The Pacific Ocean has a number of feeder currents which constantly circulate the waters of ocean, giving them varying temperature and saline profiles.
The main commercial fishing centers are located in the continental shelf’s shallow waters, where the main catch are halibut, salmon, sardines, herring, and tuna. Many transpacific sea-lanes go through the Islands of Hawaii, while the chief ports in the Pacific Ocean are brisk trading centers. Most of the islands located are important tourism centers.