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Facts about the Mediterranean Sea for Kids


  • The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant.
  • The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is often identified as a completely separate body of water.
  • The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 4,900 ft and the deepest recorded point is 17,280 ft in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea.
  • When Augustus founded the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean Sea began to be called Mare Nostrum by the Romans.
  • The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar in the west and to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, by the Dardanelles and the Bosporus respectively, in the east.
  • Large islands in the Mediterranean include Cyprus, Crete, Euboea, Rhodes, Lesbos, Chios, Kefalonia, Corfu, Naxos and Andros in the eastern Mediterranean; Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Cres, Krk, Brač, Hvar, Pag, Korčula and Malta in the central Mediterranean; and Ibiza, Majorca and Minorca (the Balearic Islands) in the western Mediterranean.
  • The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Mediterranean Sea as follows: Stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar in the West to the entrances to the Dardanelles and the Suez Canal in the East, the Mediterranean Sea is bounded by the coasts of EuropeAfrica and Asia, and is divided into two deep basins: Western Basin: On the west: A line joining the extremities of Cape Trafalgar (Spain) and Cape Spartel (Africa).
  • Eastern Basin: On the west: The Northeastern and Eastern limits of the Western Basin.
  • Being nearly landlocked affects conditions in the Mediterranean Sea: for instance, tides are very limited as a result of the narrow connection with the Atlantic Ocean.
  • A shallow submarine ridge between the island of Sicily and the coast of Tunisia divides the sea in two main subregions, the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • The development of these intramontane Betic and Rif basins led to the onset of two marine gateways which were progressively closed during the late Miocene by an interplay of tectonic and glacio-eustatic processes.
  • During late Miocene times, a so-called “Messinian Salinity Crisis” (MSC hereafter) occurred, which was triggered by the closure of the Atlantic gateway.
  • The Alboran Sea is a transition zone between the two seas, containing a mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic species.
  • In 2003, the World Wildlife Fund raised concerns about the widespread drift net fishing endangering populations of dolphins, turtles, and other marine animals.
  • Invasive species The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean and Red Sea.
  • When these species succeed in establishing populations in the Mediterranean sea, compete with and begin to replace native species they are “Alien Invasive Species”, as they are an agent of change and a threat to the native biodiversity.
  • Whether this reflects an expansion of the natural area of these species that now enter the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar strait, because of a warming trend of the water caused by Global Warming; or an extension of the maritime traffic; or is simply the result of a more intense scientific investigation, is still an open question.
  • Coastal ecosystems also appear to be threatened by sea level rise, especially enclosed seas such as the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
  • Pollution in this region has been extremely high in recent years.
  • The Barcelona Convention aims to ‘reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and protect and improve the marine environment in the area, thereby contributing to its sustainable development.
  • The European Environment Agency says that over 65% of all fish stocks in the region are outside safe biological limits and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, that some of the most important fisheries — such as albacore and bluefin tuna, hake, marlin, swordfish, red mullet and sea bream — are threatened.