Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Peaceful Sea

Named Mare Pacificum, "Peaceful Sea", by Ferdinand Magellan in 1519, we now call it the Pacific Ocean. It is so large, it covers 32% of the Earth's surface, more than all the Earth's land combined. Stretching from the Arctic in the north to Antarctica in the south, it is ringed by volcanos and can produce typhoons, tidal waves and serious storm systems no sailor would ever call "pacific". The equator divides it into the North and South Pacific, and it is home to 25,000 islands, mostly in the South. In the western North Pacific, the Mariana Trench is the deepest point on Earth - 6.8 miles. Because of the size of its fetch (the length of water over which a given wind is blown), it is capable of creating massive waves, like those so avidly surfed in Hawaii.

The map above, drawn by Abraham Ortelius in 1589, is the first ever printed of the Pacific Ocean.

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