What is the Difference Between a Sea and Ocean?

What defines a Sea? Why is the Ocean Salty? Which is the Smallest and Deepest Ocean in the World? What is the Saltiest place on Earth? Can you drink Boiled Saltwater?

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While discussing the difference between a sea and ocean, most people would say that one is bigger than the other, but the size isn’t everything. Are they two different bodies of water, or is one just a section of the other? But the difference between a sea and ocean is also worth exploring. Keep reading to find out what makes these two bodies of water unique. So, what do you know more about sea vs ocean? Let’s find out.

1. What defines a Sea?

A sea is a large body of ocean that is surrounded in part by land. Seas are generally found between the continents and are partially enclosed by them. There are several seas recognized by most countries, including the Caribbean Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the South China Sea. The definition of a sea can also include smaller bodies of saltwater such as the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea

In addition to being geographically defined as bodies of water partially surrounded by land, seas are also sometimes defined based on their ecological function or productivity. (See 10 Whirlpool in Lakes Facts)

2. What is the Difference Between a Sea and Ocean?

Generally speaking, seas are smaller bodies of saltwater that are partially enclosed by land, while oceans are the larger bodies of saltwater that cover most of the Earth’s surface. However, there is some overlap in usage between these two terms, and some sources consider seas and oceans to be identical. Seas are located near the land while the ocean is not close to land. (See Hottest Desert in the World)

3. In Sea vs Ocean, Which is Deeper?

While most people use the terms ocean and sea interchangeably, there is a big difference between a sea and ocean. The world’s oceans are much larger than its seas. The oceans make up about 71% of the Earth’s surface, while seas only make up a mere 2%.

While both the ocean and seas are large bodies of water, the ocean is typically much deeper than the seas. Seas are generally smaller bodies while the ocean is a vast body of water that covers a significantly larger area. The average depth of the ocean is around 3,688 meters, while the average depth of a sea is only around 1/3 of that. So, in terms of depth in the difference between a sea and ocean, the ocean wins out as all seas are part of an ocean, not all oceans are made up of seas. (See Where does Sea Glass come from?)

4. How Deep is the Pacific Ocean?

The Pacific Ocean is the deepest ocean on Earth, with a maximum depth of 10,911 meters. This ocean covers more than an area of 155 million square kilometers, making it the largest ocean on the planet. The Pacific Ocean is home to many different species of marine life, including whales, dolphins, and sharks. So, the Pacific is the deepest ocean and the Mediterranean is the deepest sea. (See Is the Eye of a Hurricane Calm?)

5. Why is the Ocean Salty?

The ocean is salty because of the process of erosion. Over time, the waves and currents erode the rock and the acids chemically break down the minerals in the rock. This process leeches salt into the ocean water, making it salty. (See How many Islands in the Philippines are Known?)

6. What is the World’s Saltiest Sea?

The saltiest sea is the Dead Sea. It has a salinity of 34 percent. This is more than 10 times the salinity of ocean water (3.5%), and it’s why swimming in the Dead Sea is so refreshing. The high salt concentration also makes the water very heavy, which is why it’s possible to float on top of it. (See Argentine Lake Duck Overview)

7. Can you drink Sea Water if boiled?

As you already know the difference between a sea and ocean, now you must know you can’t drink water whether it’s from a sea or an ocean. Many people believe that boiling seawater will make it safe to drink, but this is not the case. While boiling water will kill any harmful bacteria or organisms living in the water, it will not remove the salt. Boiling seawater can concentrate the salt and make it even more dangerous to drink. (See Do Water Towers Hold Water?)

8. What is the Saltiest place on Earth?

Don Juan Pond in Antarctica is believed to be the saltiest body of water on Earth. The pond is so salty because it’s cut off from the rest of the oceans, and because evaporation leaves behind high concentrations of minerals. The concentration of salt in Don Juan Pond is almost twice that of seawater and its salinity rate is 40%. (See What are the Names of Coldest Places on Earth?)

9. Which is the Smallest Ocean in the World?

The smallest ocean in the world is the Arctic Ocean, which covers an area of 6.1 million square miles. Its waters are characterized by being very cold and salty. The average depth of the Arctic Ocean is about 3,953 feet, and it is home to a variety of marine life, including seals, whales, walruses, crabs, and fish. (See Why Ice floats on Water?)

Overall, there is a huge difference between a sea and ocean that you need to be aware of. Hope you got to know valuable information regarding sea vs ocean. (See What are the 6 Layers of the Earth?)

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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