An ocean (from Ancient
Greek Ὠκεανός, transc. Okeanós, the sea of classical antiquity
) is a body of saline water that composes much of a planet 's hydrosphere. On Earth
, an ocean is one
of the major conventional divisions of the World Ocean. These are, in descending order by area , the Pacific, Atlantic
, Indian, Southern (Antarctic), and Arctic
Oceans . The word sea is often used interchangeably with "ocean" in American
English but, strictly speaking, a sea is a body of saline water (generally a division
of the world ocean) partly or fully enclosed by land .
Saline water covers approximately 360,000,000 km2 (140,000,000 sq mi) and is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas, with the ocean covering approximately 71% of Earth
's surface and 90% of the Earth
's biosphere. The ocean contains 97% of Earth
's water , and oceanographers have stated that less than 5% of the World Ocean has been explored. The total volume is approximately 1.35 billion cubic kilometers (320 million cu mi) with an average
depth of nearly 3,700 meters (12,100 ft).
As the world ocean is the principal component of Earth
's hydrosphere, it is integral to life , forms part of the carbon cycle
, and influences climate
and weather patterns . The world ocean is the habitat of 230,000 known species, but because
much of it is unexplored, the number of species that exist in the ocean is much larger, possibly over two million .