Various Interesting Facts About the Indian Ocean


The Indian Ocean is the third largest oceanic divisions in the world next to the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It is but larger than Antarctic Ocean (Southern Ocean) and Arctic ocean covering 20 percent (one-fifth) of the world waters. It is scattered with thousands of tropical Islands such as the Seychelles and the Maldives. The Ocean’s average depth is 3,890 m (12,762 ft) and ocean’s volume is approximately 292,131,000 cubic kilometers.

The Ocean waters circulate asymmetrically in the waters on the west of Africa, east of Malay Peninsula, Sunda Islands, and Australia, south of Southern Ocean, and north of Asia including the Indian peninsula from which the name is derived. The Indian Ocean was once united with the Southern Ocean but in 2000, the International Hydrographic Organization removed the portion of Indian Ocean 60 degrees to south latitude in order to create the fifth Ocean, the Southern Ocean.

Interesting Facts About the Indian Ocean

1. History. Some Scientist believes that the formation of the Indian Ocean began 200 million years ago. In the ancient time, India was united with Africa and Australia, Antarctica, and South America into a huge landmass known as Gondwanaland. The Indian Ocean formed when Australia broke from Africa followed by India and other lands.

2. Discovery. Indian Ocean was discovered by a Greek, Eudoxus of Cyzicus who first crossed the ocean in the 2nd or 1st century BC. During that time, sailor Hippalus also discovered the direct path from Arabia to India. The development of trade relations made to the discovery of the Indian Ocean.

3. Etymology. The Indian Ocean is known as Ratnakara which means the creator of gems in the ancient Sanskrit language. The story of connecting gems in the Indian Ocean began from the continuous trade from Oman to East Africa over five thousand years ago. The early trade steeped in the richness of the cultures and literature of the countries that were linked by the Indian Ocean.

4. Geology. The Mid-Indian range is the underwater ridge of the Indian Ocean which is a continuation of Atlantic ridges. It extends to the Rodrigues Island in the North branching towards the northward Gulf of Aden and southward of Macquarie Islands. The mid-Indian range is also called the Carlsberg Ridge which is associated with seismically active earthquake epicenter belts.

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5. Sovereign. In the1880s, Indian ocean was under the power of United Kingdom but after declining it, India and Australia took over. Geographically, India has its role to stabilize the Ocean. However, China’s threat results to the opening of the sea for other countries.

6. Plate movements. The Indian Ocean is believed of getting centimeters wider every year. Currently, the Indian Plate is moving north-east at 5 centimeters every year, while the Eurasian Plate is moving north at only 2 centimeters every year. This causes the Eurasian Plate to deform, and the Indian Plate to compress at a rate of 4 millimeters (0.16 in) per year.

7. Total Area. The total area of Indian Ocean is 73,556,000 square kilometers (28,400,000 mi²) including the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Its maximum wide is approximately 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) from the southern tips of Africa to Australia. However, Indian Ocean is believed to be getting wider every year due to the Seafloor spreading.

8. Bordering territories. There are several countries that bound the Indian Ocean. These are Iran, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh on the north; the Malay Peninsula, the Sunda Islands of Indonesia, and Australia on the east; Antarctica on the south; and Africa and the Arabian Peninsula on the west. The southwest waters join the Atlantic Ocean which is south of the southern tip of Africa, while the east and southeast waters join the Pacific Ocean.

9. Climate. The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world. However, temperature varies between tropical western and the eastern Indian Ocean, known as the Indian Ocean Dipole or IOD. The IOD has three sustained changes of phase: Neutral IOD (cooler than normal water in the west and warmer than normal in the east), Positive IOD (warmer than normal water in the west and cooler than normal water in the east), and Negative IOD (normal water in the west and cooler than normal water in the east).

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From December to July, it experiences northeast monsoon and from June to October, southwest monsoon. Tropical cyclones usually occur in the northern Indian Ocean during May/June and October/November and during January/ February, it is experienced by the southern part region.

10. Sea life. The Indian Ocean has limited marine life due to warmer water temperature. Nevertheless, it is considered as the largest breeding grounds of humpback whales in the world and a host of the largest thriving spot of phytoplankton, especially in the summer. The Indian Ocean also shares the second largest production of Tuna and a spot where endangered species thrive such as dugong, seals, turtles, and whales. Coelacanth, an extinct fish species, was discovered in the waters of Comoro islands between Mozambique and Madagascar.

11. Fauna. Along the coastal areas bordering the Indian Ocean are Indian and Madagascar which grow the vast number of mangrove trees. In the Western Australia, sea grass and microalgae are dominant. Aquatic fauna includes various alga species such as red subtidal alga, green marine alga, and brown alga.

12. Physical and Chemical Properties. On average, Indian Ocean has a minimum temperature of about 22 degrees Celsius and a maximum of 28 degree Celsius when near to equator. It has the highest concentration of dissolved and floating hydrocarbons and its salinity of the water ranges from 32 to 37 parts per 1000. Due to higher evaporation rate than precipitation, Indian Ocean waters are considered one of the lowest oxygen content of the world.

13. Best Indian Ocean islands. Islands of Indian Ocean are known for biodiversity hotspots. Such example is the Madagascar, known for its remarkable biodiversity and extensive deforestation. It is one of the 25 richest and most endangered reservoirs of flora and fauna on Earth. Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Comoro islands are also known for their exquisite beaches, limpid lagoons, excellent diving, and forested volcanoes.

14. Economy/Trade. Indian Ocean is economically used for the trade of shrimp and fish across the bordering countries. However, oil as its highest contribution is very known. Indian Ocean has an offshore deposit of oil that makes about 40 percent of the world production. It is believed that oil spills have threatened the water body.

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15. Ports. Indian Ocean has ports in the bordering countries such as in India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, and Indonesia. These ports are used for the trade of oil, fish and other minerals from other countries. These also become alternative routes in navigating the seas.

16. Ocean currents. Unlike other oceans, currents in the Indian Ocean change course twice a year. During winter, currents are blown by monsoon winds toward Africa and during summer, they are blown in other direction towards India. The ocean currents help the navigation and trade become successful in the Indian Ocean.

17. Submerged Continent. In 1999, an ancient lost continent was discovered in Indian Ocean called the Kerguelen Plateau. It was believed that this microcontinent submerged about 20 million years ago because of high rise of water level. The samples of pollen and wood fragments found helped to understand the theory behind the separation of India and Australian land masses.

18. Lowest point. The Java trench of the Sunda shelf is the deepest point in the Indian Ocean. Its slopes exceed 10° and descend to a maximum depth of 24,440 feet (7,450). On the other hand, its highest point of Indian Ocean is at the sea level.

19. Earthquake. The first undersea megathrust earthquake was recorded in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. The massive earthquake was caused by the subduction of the Burma to the Indian Plate. The subduction triggered a series of tsunamis along the coasts bordering the Indian Ocean killing 230,000 people in 14 countries, with waves up to 30 meters (100 ft) high.

20. Tropical Cyclone. The strongest storm recorded in the basin of Indian Ocean (Southwest) is the Cyclone of Gafilo. It was the deadliest and most destructive cyclone of the 2003-2004 season. It killed at least 237 people and $250 million in worth of damage in the Madagascar.

References: britannica , nationalgeographic
Photo by: Pexels

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