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Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

At 165.25 million square kilometers (63.8 million square miles) in area, this largest division of the World Ocean – and, in turn, the hydrosphere – covers about 46% of the Earth's water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of the Earth's land area combined.[1] The equator subdivides it into the North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: the Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly within the South Pacific.[2] The Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 10,911 metres (35,797 ft).[3]

The eastern Pacific Ocean was first sighted by Europeans in the early 16th century when Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered the great "southern sea" which he named Mar del Sur. The ocean's current name was coined by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish circumnavigation of the world in 1521, as he encountered favourable winds on reaching the ocean. He therefore called it Mar Pacifico in Portuguese, meaning "peaceful sea".[4]

Contents

  • History 1
    • Early migrations 1.1
    • European exploration 1.2
    • New Imperialism 1.3
  • Geography 2
    • Bordering countries and territories 2.1
      • Sovereign nations 2.1.1
      • Territories 2.1.2
    • Landmasses and islands 2.2
  • Water characteristics 3
  • Climate 4
  • Geology 5
    • Geological history 5.1
    • Seamount chains 5.2
  • Economy 6
    • Fishing 6.1
  • Environmental issues 7
  • Major ports and harbors 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

History

Early migrations

Maris Pacifici by Ortelius (1589). One of the first printed maps to show the Pacific Ocean; see also Waldseemüller map (1507).[5]
USS Lexington under air attack on 8 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea

Important human migrations occurred in the Pacific in prehistoric times. About 3000 BC, the Austronesian peoples on the island of Taiwan mastered the art of long-distance canoe travel and spread themselves and their languages south to the Philippines, Indonesia, and maritime Southeast Asia; west towards Madagascar; southeast towards New Guinea and Melanesia (intermarrying with native Papuans); and east to the islands of Micronesia, Oceania and Polynesia.[6]

Long-distance trade developed all along the coast from Mozambique to Japan. Trade, and therefore knowledge, extended to the Indonesian islands but apparently not Australia. By at least 878 when there was a significant Islamic settlement in Canton much of this trade was controlled by Arabs or Muslims. In 219 BC Xu Fu sailed out into the Pacific searching for the elixir of immortality. From 1404 to 1433 Zheng He led expeditions into the Indian Ocean.

European exploration

The Martin Waldseemüller map of 1507 was the first to show the Americas separating two distinct oceans. [7]

The direct contact of the European fleets with western edges of the Pacific began with the Portuguese expeditions of

  • EPIC Pacific Ocean Data Collection Viewable on-line collection of observational data
  • NOAA In-situ Ocean Data Viewer plot and download ocean observations
  • NOAA PMEL Argo profiling floats Realtime Pacific Ocean data
  • NOAA TAO El Niño data Realtime Pacific Ocean El Niño buoy data
  • NOAA Ocean Surface Current Analyses – Realtime (OSCAR) Near-realtime Pacific Ocean Surface Currents derived from satellite altimeter and scatterometer data

External links

  • Barkley, Richard A. (1968). Oceanographic Atlas of the Pacific Ocean. Honolulu:  
  • prepared by the Special Publications Division, National Geographic Society. (1985). Blue Horizons: Paradise Isles of the Pacific. Washington, D.C.:  
  • Cameron, Ian (1987). Lost Paradise: The Exploration of the Pacific. Topsfield, Mass.: Salem House.  
  • Couper, A. D. (ed.) (1989). Development and Social Change in the  
  • Gilbert, John (1971). Charting the Vast Pacific. London: Aldus.  
  • Igler, David (2013). The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush. New York: Oxford University Press.  
  • Lower, J. Arthur (1978). Ocean of Destiny: A Concise History of the North Pacific, 1500–1978. Vancouver:  
  • Napier, W.; Gilbert, J.; Holland, J. (1973). Pacific Voyages. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.  
  • Nunn, Patrick D. (1998). Pacific Island Landscapes: Landscape and Geological Development of Southwest Pacific Islands, Especially Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. editorips@usp.ac.fj.  
  • Oliver, Douglas L. (1989). The Pacific Islands (3rd ed.). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.  
  • Ridgell, Reilly (1988). Pacific Nations and Territories: The Islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia (2nd ed.). Honolulu: Bess Press.  
  • Soule, Gardner (1970). The Greatest Depths: Probing the Seas to 20,000 feet (6,100 m) and Below. Philadelphia: Macrae Smith.  
  • Spate, O. H. K. (1988). Paradise Found and Lost. Minneapolis:  
  • Terrell, John (1986). Prehistory in the Pacific Islands: A Study of Variation in Language, Customs, and Human Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c Pacific Ocean". Britannica Concise. 2006. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  2. ^ International Hydrographic Organization (1953). "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". Monte Carlo, Monaco: International Hydrographic Organization. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "Japan Atlas: Japan Marine Science and Technology Center". Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  4. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Ferdinand Magellan". Newadvent.org. 1910-10-01. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "Library Acquires Copy of 1507 Waldseemüller World Map - News Releases (Library of Congress)". Loc.gov. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  6. ^ Stanley, David (2004). South Pacific. David Stanley. p. 19.  
  7. ^ "The Map That Named America". www.loc.gov. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Hannard (1991), page 7
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Porter, Jonathan. [1996] (1996). Macau, the Imaginary City: Culture and Society, 1557 to the Present. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3749-6
  11. ^ Ober, Frederick Albion. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa. Library of Alexandria. p. 129.  
  12. ^ "Life in the sea: Pacific Ocean", Oceanário de Lisboa. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  13. ^  
  14. ^ Whiteway, Richard Stephen (1899). The rise of Portuguese power in India, 1497–1550. Westminster: A. Constable. 
  15. ^ Henderson, James D.; Delpar, Helen; Brungardt, Maurice Philip; Weldon, Richard N. (January 2000). A Reference Guide to Latin American History. M.E. Sharpe. p. 28.  
  16. ^ Primary Australian History: Book F [B6] Ages 10-11. R.I.C. Publications. 2008. p. 6.  
  17. ^ Williams, Glyndwr (2004). Captain Cook: Explorations And Reassessments. Boydell Press. p. 143.  
  18. ^ Lytle Schurz, William (1922), "The Spanish Lake", The Hispanic American Historical Review 5 (2): 181–194 
  19. ^ a b Bernard Eccleston, Michael Dawson. 1998. The Asia-Pacific Profile. Routledge. p. 250.
  20. ^ William Sater, Chile and the United States: Empires in Conflict, 1990 by the University of Georgia Press, ISBN 0-8203-1249-5
  21. ^ Tewari, Nita; Alvarez, Alvin N. (17 September 2008). Asian American Psychology: Current Perspectives. CRC Press. p. 161.  
  22. ^ "Area of Earth's Land Surface", The Physics Factbook. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  23. ^ Nuttall, Mark (2005). Encyclopedia of the Arctic: A-F. Routledge. p. 1461.  
  24. ^ "Plate Tectonics", Bucknell University. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  25. ^ Young, Greg (2009). Plate Tectonics. Capstone. pp. 9–.  
  26. ^ International Hydrographic Organization (1953). Limits of Oceans and Seas. International Hydrographic Organization. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  27. ^ Agno, Lydia (1998). Basic Geography. Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. pp. 25–.  
  28. ^ "Pacific Ocean: The trade winds", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  29. ^ Murphy, Shirley Rousseau (1979). The Ring of Fire. Avon.  
  30. ^ Bryant, Edward (2008). Tsunami: The Underrated Hazard. Springer. pp. 26–.  
  31. ^ a b Academic American encyclopedia. Grolier Incorporated. 1997. p. 8.  
  32. ^ a b Lal, Brij Vilash; Fortune, Kate (2000). The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 63–.  
  33. ^ West, Barbara A. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. pp. 521–.  
  34. ^ Dunford, Betty; Ridgell, Reilly (1996). Pacific Neighbors: The Islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. Bess Press. pp. 125–.  
  35. ^ Gillespie, Rosemary G.; Clague, David A. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islands. University of California Press. p. 706.  
  36. ^ "Coral island", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  37. ^ "Nauru", Charting the Pacific. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  38. ^ "PWLF.org - The Pacific WildLife Foundation - The Pacific Ocean". Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  39. ^ Mongillo, John F. (2000). Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. University Rochester Press. pp. 255–.  
  40. ^ "Pacific Ocean: Salinity", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  41. ^ "Wind Driven Surface Currents: Equatorial Currents Background", Ocean Motion. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  42. ^ "Kuroshio", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  43. ^ "Aleutian Current", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  44. ^ "South Equatorial Current", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  45. ^ "Pacific Ocean: Islands", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  46. ^  
  47. ^ Glossary of Meteorology (2009). Monsoon. American Meteorological Society. Retrieved on 2009-01-16.
  48. ^  
  49. ^ "Pacific Ocean", World Factbook, CIA. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  50. ^ John P. Stimac. Air pressure and wind. Retrieved on 8 May 2008.
  51. ^ Walker, Stuart (1998). The sailor's wind. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 91.  
  52. ^ Turnbull, Alexander (15 December 2006). Map New Zealand: 100 Magnificent Maps from the Collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Godwit. p. 8.  
  53. ^ Trent, D. D.; Hazlett, Richard; Bierman, Paul (2010). Geology and the Environment. Cengage Learning. p. 133.  
  54. ^ Mueller-Dombois, Dieter (1998). Vegetation of the Tropical Pacific Islands. Springer. p. 13.  
  55. ^ a b "GEOL 102 The Proterozoic Eon II: Rodinia and Pannotia". Geol.umd.edu. 2010-01-05. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  56. ^ Mussett, Alan E.; Khan, M. Aftab (23 October 2000). Looking Into the Earth: An Introduction to Geological Geophysics. Cambridge University Press. p. 332.  
  57. ^ "Pacific Ocean: Fisheries", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  58. ^ "Pacific Ocean: Commerce and Shipping", The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th edition. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  59. ^ "Pacific Ocean Threats & Impacts: Overfishing and Exploitation", Center for Ocean Solutions. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  60. ^ Plastic waste in the North Pacific is an ongoing concern BBC 9 May 2012
  61. ^ a b "PHOTOS: Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Documented-A First". News.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  62. ^ Gerlach: Marine Pollution, Springer, Berlin (1975)

References

See also

Major ports and harbors

In addition, the Pacific Ocean has served as the crash site of satellites, including Mars 96, Fobos-Grunt, and Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.

Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human-created waste that has ended up floating in a lake, sea, ocean, or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and coastlines, frequently washing aground where it is known as beach litter.[61]

Marine pollution is a generic term for the harmful entry into the ocean of chemicals or particles. The main culprits are those using the rivers for disposing of their waste.[61] The rivers then empty into the ocean, often also bringing chemicals used as fertilizers in agriculture. The excess of oxygen-depleting chemicals in the water leads to hypoxia and the creation of a dead zone.[62]

The quantity of small plastic fragments floating in the north-east Pacific Ocean has increased a hundredfold over the past 40 years (2012).[60]

Marine debris on a Hawaiian coast

Environmental issues

Fish are an important economic asset in the Pacific. The shallower shoreline waters of the continents and the more temperate islands yield herring, salmon, sardines, snapper, swordfish, and tuna, as well as shellfish.[58] Overfishing has become a serious problem in some areas. For example, catches in the rich fishing grounds of the Okhotsk Sea off the Russian coast have been reduced by at least half since the 1990s as a result of overfishing.[59]

Fishing

The exploitation of the Pacific's mineral wealth is hampered by the ocean's great depths. In shallow waters of the continental shelves off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, petroleum and natural gas are extracted, and pearls are harvested along the coasts of Australia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Philippines, although in sharply declining volume in some cases.[57]

Economy

The Pacific Ocean contains several long seamount chains, formed by hotspot volcanism. These include the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain and the Louisville seamount chain.

Seamount chains

The Pacific Ocean developed from Panthalassa following the breakup of Pangaea. There is no firm date for when the changeover occurred, as the replacement of the sea bed is a continuous process, though reconstruction maps often change the name from Panthalassic to Pacific around the time the Atlantic Ocean began to open.[55] The Panthalassic Ocean first opened 750 million years ago at the breakup of Rodinia,[55] but the oldest Pacific Ocean floor is only around 180 Ma old.[56]

Geological history

The Pacific Ocean is the only ocean which is almost totally bounded by subduction zones. Only the Antarctic and Australian coasts have no nearby subduction zones.

Within the closed loop of the andesite line are most of the deep troughs, submerged volcanic mountains, and oceanic volcanic islands that characterize the Pacific basin. Here basaltic lavas gently flow out of rifts to build huge dome-shaped volcanic mountains whose eroded summits form island arcs, chains, and clusters. Outside the andesite line, volcanism is of the explosive type, and the Pacific Ring of Fire is the world's foremost belt of explosive volcanism.[31] The Ring of Fire is named after the several hundred active volcanoes that sit above the various subduction zones.

The dissimilarity continues northeastward along the western edge of the Andes Cordillera along South America to Mexico, returning then to the islands off California. Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, New Guinea, and New Zealand lie outside the andesite line.

The andesite line is the most significant regional distinction in the Pacific. A petrologic boundary, it separates the deeper, mafic igneous rock of the Central Pacific Basin from the partially submerged continental areas of felsic igneous rock on its margins.[53] The andesite line follows the western edge of the islands off California and passes south of the Aleutian arc, along the eastern edge of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands, Japan, the Mariana Islands, the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand's North Island.[32][54]

The ocean was mapped by Abraham Ortelius; he called it Maris Pacifici because of Ferdinand Magellan, who sailed the Pacific during his circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522 and said that it was much more calm than the Atlantic.[52]

Ulawun stratovolcano situated on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea
The Pacific is ringed by many volcanoes and oceanic trenches.

Geology

In the arctic, icing from October to May can present a hazard for shipping while persistent fog occurs from June to December.[49] A climatological low in the Gulf of Alaska keeps the southern coast wet and mild during the winter months. The Westerlies and associated jet stream within the Mid-Latitudes can be particularly strong, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, due to the temperature difference between the tropics and Antarctica,[50] which records the coldest temperature readings on the planet. In the Southern hemisphere, because of the stormy and cloudy conditions associated with extratropical cyclones riding the jet stream, it is usual to refer to the Westerlies as the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Shrieking Sixties according to the varying degrees of latitude.[51]

In the tropical western Pacific, the monsoon and the related wet season during the summer months contrast with dry winds in the winter which blow over the ocean from the Asian landmass.[47] Worldwide, tropical cyclone activity peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest. However, each particular basin has its own seasonal patterns. On a worldwide scale, May is the least active month, while September is the most active month. November is the only month in which all the tropical cyclone basins are active.[48] Cyclones are liable to form south of Mexico, striking the western Mexican coast and occasionally the southwestern United States between June and October, with those forming in the western Pacific moving into southeast and east Asia from May to December.

In the tropical and subtropical Pacific, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affects weather conditions. To determine the phase of ENSO, the most recent three-month sea surface temperature average for the area approximately 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) to the southeast of Hawai'i is computed, and if the region is more than 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) above or below normal for that period, then an El Niño or La Niña is considered in progress.[46]

The climate patterns of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres generally mirror each other. The trade winds in the southern and eastern Pacific are remarkably steady while conditions in the North Pacific are far more varied with, for example, cold winter temperatures on the east coast of Russia contrasting with the milder weather off British Columbia during the winter months due to the preferred flow of ocean currents.[45]

Typhoon Tip at peak intensity on October 12, 1979
Impact of El Niño and La Niña on North America

Climate

Turning eastward at about 45°N, the Kuroshio forks and some water moves northward as the Aleutian Current, while the rest turns southward to rejoin the North Equatorial Current.[42] The Aleutian Current branches as it approaches North America and forms the base of a counter-clockwise circulation in the Bering Sea. Its southern arm becomes the chilled slow, south-flowing California Current.[43] The South Equatorial Current, flowing west along the equator, swings southward east of New Guinea, turns east at about 50°S, and joins the main westerly circulation of the South Pacific, which includes the Earth-circling Antarctic Circumpolar Current. As it approaches the Chilean coast, the South Equatorial Current divides; one branch flows around Cape Horn and the other turns north to form the Peru or Humboldt Current.[44]

The volume of the Pacific Ocean, representing about 50.1 percent of the world's oceanic water, has been estimated at some 714 million cubic kilometers.[38] Surface water temperatures in the Pacific can vary from −1.4 °C (29.5 °F), the freezing point of sea water, in the poleward areas to about 30 °C (86 °F) near the equator.[39] Salinity also varies latitudinally, reaching a maximum of 37 parts per thousand in the southeastern area. The water near the equator, which can have a salinity as low as 34 parts per thousand, is less salty than that found in the mid-latitudes because of abundant equatorial precipitation throughout the year. The lowest counts of less than 32 parts per thousand are found in the far north as less evaporation of seawater takes place in these frigid areas.[40] The motion of Pacific waters is generally clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere (the North Pacific gyre) and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The North Equatorial Current, driven westward along latitude 15°N by the trade winds, turns north near the Philippines to become the warm Japan or Kuroshio Current.[41]

Water characteristics

The coral reefs of the South Pacific are low-lying structures that have built up on basaltic lava flows under the ocean's surface. One of the most dramatic is the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia with chains of reef patches. A second island type formed of coral is the uplifted coral platform, which is usually slightly larger than the low coral islands. Examples include Banaba (formerly Ocean Island) and Makatea in the Tuamotu group of French Polynesia.[36][37]

Islands in the Pacific Ocean are of four basic types: continental islands, high islands, coral reefs, and uplifted coral platforms. Continental islands lie outside the andesite line and include New Guinea, the islands of New Zealand, and the Philippines. Some of these islands are structurally associated with nearby continents. High islands are of volcanic origin, and many contain active volcanoes. Among these are Bougainville, Hawaii, and the Solomon Islands.[35]

Los Molinos on the coast of Southern Chile

The largest area, Polynesia, stretching from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand in the south, also encompasses Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and the Kermadec Islands to the west, the Cook Islands, Society Islands and Austral Islands in the center, and the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu, Mangareva Islands and Easter Island to the east.[34]

Melanesia, to the southwest, includes New Guinea, the world's second largest island after Greenland and by far the largest of the Pacific islands. The other main Melanesian groups from north to south are the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.[33]

The islands entirely within the Pacific Ocean can be divided into three main groups known as Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Micronesia, which lies north of the equator and west of the International Date Line, includes the Mariana Islands in the northwest, the Caroline Islands in the center, the Marshall Islands to the west and the islands of Kiribati in the southwest.[31][32]

Tahuna maru islet, French Polynesia
Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia

Landmasses and islands

Territories

1 The status of Taiwan is disputed. For more information, see political status of Taiwan.

Sovereign nations

Bordering countries and territories

For most of Magellan's voyage from the Strait of Magellan to the Philippines, the explorer indeed found the ocean peaceful. However, the Pacific is not always peaceful. Many tropical storms batter the islands of the Pacific.[28] The lands around the Pacific Rim are full of volcanoes and often affected by earthquakes.[29] Tsunamis, caused by underwater earthquakes, have devastated many islands and in some cases destroyed entire towns.[30]

As the Pacific straddles the 180th meridian, the West Pacific (or western Pacific, near Asia) is in the Eastern Hemisphere, while the East Pacific (or eastern Pacific, near the Americas) is in the Western Hemisphere.[27]

Storm in Pacifica, California

Along the Pacific Ocean's irregular western margins lie many seas, the largest of which are the [26]

Due to the effects of plate tectonics, the Pacific Ocean is currently shrinking by roughly an inch per year (2–3 cm/yr) on three sides, roughly averaging 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) a year. By contrast, the Atlantic Ocean is increasing in size.[24][25]

Extending approximately 15,500 kilometers (9,600 mi) from the Bering Sea in the Arctic to the northern extent of the circumpolar Southern Ocean at 60°S (older definitions extend it to Antarctica's Ross Sea), the Pacific reaches its greatest east-west width at about 5°N latitude, where it stretches approximately 19,800 kilometers (12,300 mi) from Indonesia to the coast of Colombia – halfway around the world, and more than five times the diameter of the Moon.[23] The lowest known point on Earth—the Mariana Trench—lies 10,911 meters (35,797 ft or 5,966 fathoms) below sea level. Its average depth is 4,280 meters (14,040 ft or 2,333 fathoms).[1]

The Pacific separates Asia and Australia from the Americas. It may be further subdivided by the equator into northern (North Pacific) and southern (South Pacific) portions. It extends from the Antarctic region in the South to the Arctic in the north.[1] The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of 165.2 million square kilometers (63.8 million square miles) —significantly larger than Earth's entire landmass of some 150 million square kilometers (58 million square miles).[22]

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen from the International Space Station. Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible.
Island nations and territories of the Pacific

Geography

Although the United States gained control of Guam and the Philippines from Spain in 1898,[21] Japan controlled most of the western Pacific by 1914 and occupied many other islands during World War II. However, by the end of that war, Japan was defeated and the U.S. Pacific Fleet was the virtual master of the ocean. Since the end of World War II, many former colonies in the Pacific have become independent states.

In Oceania, France got a leading position as imperial power after making Tahiti and New Caledonia protectorates in 1842 and 1853 respectively.[19] After navy visits to Easter Island in 1875 and 1887, Chilean navy officer Policarpo Toro managed to negotiate an incorporation of the island into Chile with native Rapanui in 1888. By occupying Easter Island, Chile joined the imperial nations.[20](p53) By 1900 nearly all Pacific islands were in control of Britain, France, United States, Germany, Japan, and Chile.[19]

Dupetit Thouars taking over Tahiti on September 9, 1842.

Growing imperialism during the 19th century resulted in the occupation of much of Oceania by other European powers, and later, Japan and the United States. Significant contributions to oceanographic knowledge were made by the voyages of HMS Beagle in the 1830s, with Charles Darwin aboard; HMS Challenger during the 1870s; the USS Tuscarora (1873–76); and the German Gazelle (1874–76).

The Bathyscaphe Trieste, before her record dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 23 January 1960

New Imperialism

In the 16th and 17th century Spain considered the Pacific Ocean a Mare clausum – a sea closed to other naval powers. As the only known entrance from the Atlantic the Strait of Magellan was at times patrolled by fleets sent to prevent entrance of non-Spanish ships. On the western end of the Pacific Ocean the Dutch threatened the Spanish Philippines.[18]

Later, in the quest for Malaspina Expedition of 1789–1794. It sailed vast areas of the Pacific, from Cape Horn to Alaska, Guam and the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.

In 1564, five Spanish ships consisting of 379 explorers crossed the ocean from Mexico led by Miguel López de Legazpi and sailed to the Philippines and Mariana Islands.[15] For the remainder of the 16th century, Spanish influence was paramount, with ships sailing from Mexico and Peru across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines, via Guam, and establishing the Spanish East Indies. The Manila galleons operated for two and a half centuries linking Manila and Acapulco, in one of the longest trade routes in history. Spanish expeditions also discovered Tuvalu, the Marquesas, the Solomon Islands, and New Guinea in the South Pacific.

Made in 1529, the Diogo Ribeiro map was the first to show the Pacific at about its proper size.

. Japan In 1542–43 the Portuguese also reached [14].Papua New Guinea and [13]Caroline Islands Sailing around and east of the Moluccas, between 1525 and 1527, Portuguese expeditions discovered the [12], completing the first world circumnavigation in 1522.Cape of Good Hope and round the Indian Ocean led the expedition back to Spain across the Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1521, Spanish navigator Philippines, he was surprised at how calm the waters became. Although Magellan himself died in the Cape Horn (or "Pacific" [meaning, "peaceful"]) because, after sailing through the stormy seas off Pacífico from 1519 to 1522. Magellan called the ocean circumnavigation sailed the Pacific on a Spanish expedition of world Ferdinand Magellan (literally, "Sea of the South" or "South Sea"). Later, Portuguese explorer Mar del Sur He named it [11] and reached the Pacific Ocean in 1513.Isthmus of Panama. His expedition crossed the Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The east side of the ocean was discovered by Spanish explorer Afonso de Albuquerque both ordered by [10]

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