Ocean, Global divisions

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Summary

An ocean (, the World Ocean 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, which occupies two-thirds of planet's surface. 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.

Details

Though generally described as several separate oceans, these waters comprise one global, interconnected body of salt water sometimes referred to as the World Ocean or global ocean." This concept of a continuous body of water with relatively free interchange among its parts is of fundamental importance to oceanography.

The major oceanic divisions are defined in part by the continents, various archipelagos, and other criteria. See the table below for more information; note that the table is in descending order in terms of size.

These adjacent regions—whether seas, gulfs, bays, bights, or straits—are very often included as part of the nearest ocean.

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