difference between sea and ocean wikipedia

Difference Between Sea and Ocean Explained


The terms “sea” and “ocean” are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion and misunderstanding about their meanings. While both are bodies of saltwater, there are distinct differences between the two.

Size and Depth

The most significant difference between a sea and an ocean is their size and depth. Oceans are vast, covering 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain an average depth of 3,800 meters. In contrast, seas are smaller and shallower, with most being less than 200 meters deep. Seas are usually found where land meets the ocean and are typically partially enclosed by land.


Another factor that distinguishes seas from oceans is their salinity. Oceans have a standardized salinity level of around 35 parts per thousand, while seas can have varying levels due to their location and the amount of freshwater flowing into them. For example, the Mediterranean Sea has a higher salinity level than the Baltic Sea due to being more isolated and having more evaporation.

Flora and Fauna

The flora and fauna found in seas and oceans are also different. Oceans are home to a wide range of marine life, such as whales, dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles. In contrast, seas typically have fewer species, with some being specific to that particular sea. For example, the Caspian Sea is home to the Caspian seal, which is not found in any other body of water.

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Seas and oceans also have different uses. Oceans are used for commercial shipping, fishing, and offshore energy development. In contrast, seas are often used for recreational purposes, such as swimming, sunbathing, and boating. Some seas are also used for commercial fishing, like the North Sea, which is known for its herring and cod.


In summary, the difference between a sea and an ocean lies in their size, depth, salinity, flora, fauna, and uses. While both are bodies of saltwater, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Understanding these differences can help avoid confusion and expand our knowledge of the natural world.

Table difference between sea and ocean wikipedia

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Sea vs. Ocean: The Major Differences

Sea vs. Ocean: The Major Differences

Aspect Sea Ocean
Definition A sea is a body of saltwater partly enclosed by land. It is a smaller body of water compared to an ocean. An ocean is a vast body of saltwater covering almost 71% of the Earth’s surface. It is the largest body of water on the planet.
Size Often smaller than oceans, but can still be very large (i.e., The Mediterranean Sea). The ocean is enormous, covering over 321 million cubic miles of water and containing about 97% of the Earth’s water.
Depth Shallow, with an average depth of only a few hundred feet. The average depth of the ocean is about 12,080 feet; the deepest part, the Mariana Trench, reaches just over 36,000 feet.
Salinity Seas tend to have a lower salt content than oceans due to rivers and groundwater that run to them. Oceans have a salt content that is more uniform throughout, given their size, age, and stable environment.
Typical flora and fauna Sea life, like dolphins, sea turtles, fish, and octopuses, typically live in seas. Marine life such as whales, plankton, krill, and large predatory fish are found living in the ocean.
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