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Facts about the Atlantic Ocean for Kids


With a total area of about 41,100,000 sq mi, The Atlantic Ocean covers approximately 20% of the Earth’s surface and about 26% of its water surface area. The first part of its name refers to Atlas of Greek mythology, making the Atlantic the “Sea of Atlas”.

  • The term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia, was applied to the southern Atlantic ocean as late as the mid-19th century.
  • Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term “ocean” itself was synonymous with the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar that we now know as the Atlantic.
  • The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Eurasia and Africa to the east, and the Americas to the west.
  • Besides those mentioned, other large bodies of water adjacent to the Atlantic are the Caribbean Sea; the Gulf of Mexico; Hudson Bay; the Arctic Ocean; the Mediterranean Sea; the North Sea; the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Sea.
  • The average depth of the Atlantic, with its adjacent seas, is 3,339 meters (1,826 fathoms; 10,950 ft); without them it is 12,880 ft.
  • In modern times, some idioms refer to the ocean in a humorously diminutive way as the Pond, describing both the geographical and cultural divide between North America and Europe, in particular between the English-speaking nations of both continents.
  • Transverse ridges running between the continents and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge divide the ocean floor into numerous basins.
  • These materials are found mostly on the continental shelves and are thickest near large river mouths or off desert coasts.
  • Although the lowest salinity values are just north of the equator (because of heavy tropical rainfall), in general the lowest values are in the high latitudes and along coasts where large rivers enter.
  • Maximum temperatures occur north of the equator, and minimum values are found in the polar regions.
  • The Sargasso Sea contains large amounts of seaweed and is also the spawning ground for both the European eel and the American eel.
  • The cold water currents contribute to heavy fog off the coast of eastern Canada (the Grand Banks of Newfoundland area) and Africa’s north-western coast.
  • Scientific explorations include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office.
  • In 1919, the American NC-4 became the first seaplane to cross the Atlantic.
  • Later in 1919, a British aeroplane piloted by Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland.
  • In 1994, Guy Delage was the first man to allegedly swim across the Atlantic Ocean (with the help of a kick board, from Cape Verde to Barbados).
  • The Aethiopian Sea, Ethiopic Ocean or Ethiopian Ocean (Okeanos Aithiopos), is an old name for what is now called the South Atlantic Ocean, which is separated from the North Atlantic Ocean by a narrow region between Natal, Brazil and Monrovia, Liberia.
  • Various international treaties attempt to reduce pollution caused by environmental threats such as oil spills, marine debris, and the incineration of toxic wastes at sea.
  • Persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September, as can hurricanes north of the equator (May to December).