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Further Investigations: Ocean Basins and Continents

  1. Ocean water that is partially enclosed or surrounded by land can be called a bay, a gulf, a sound, a sea, a cove, a bight, or a fjord depending on characteristics such as size, shoreline, and depth. Many of these names for bodies of water do not have consistent definitions. For instance, a “sea” can refer to a partially enclosed or isolated section of the ocean, like the Mediterranean Sea or the North Sea (Fig. 1.5 A). However, some seas, such as the Caspian Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, are fully enclosed saltwater lakes (Fig. 1.5 B). The Sargasso Sea is also unique in that it has no land boundaries (Fig. 1.5 C).

<p><strong>Fig. 1.5.</strong>&nbsp;(<strong>A</strong>)&nbsp;the Mediterranean Sea,</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.5.&nbsp;</strong>(<strong>B</strong>)&nbsp;the Dead Sea,</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.5. </strong>(<strong>C</strong>)&nbsp;the Sargasso Sea</p><br />

Research reasons why the definitions for bay, gulf, sound, sea, cove, bight, and fjord are not standardized. How are these terms similar or different? Locate and label as many of these bodies of water as you can on a world map. Different maps may not agree. Why might this be? Keep a list of your sources of information.

  1. Research the location of ice that covers land and water. Color the areas covered by ice on Fig. 1.4. Since ice coverage varies with the seasons in each hemisphere, note on your figure what time of the year your map depicts.
  2. Study islands and island groups.
    1. List the ten largest islands by size. Then list the ten most populated islands. How do these lists compare?
    2. Locate island groups in the Pacific ocean basin. Circle the regions referred to as Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia on a world map. What major islands and island groups are located in each of these areas? Find and label as many as you can.
    3. Extend your study of islands and island groups to those in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Indian ocean basins.
  3. Look into the names of the continents and ocean basins. Who named them and why did they choose those names? What names are used by cultures native to those regions? How do you think those names came about? Extend your investigation to seas, gulfs, bays, and other bodies of water.
  4. The Olympic logo shows five interlocking circles representing the meeting of athletes at the Olympic games from five regions of the world. Research the history and symbolism of the rings. What regions did the rings originally symbolize?
  5. Stories and poems refer to the "seven seas” and the “south seas." Where are these seas located? Why were they given these names?


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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.