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Water covers more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface, with the largest body of water, the Pacific Ocean, taking up more than one-third of the planet's surface.
All of the oceans on Earth are estimated to have a volume of 0.3 billion cubic miles (1.332 billion cubic kilometers) and an average depth of 12,080.7 feet (3,682.2 meters). But the various bodies of water that make up this total ocean area have their own unique characteristics and range in size from the sprawling Pacific to the self-contained Mediterranean.
Here are the top 10 biggest seas and oceans in the world, as measured by surface area in square miles (square kilometers).
Bering SeaSlide 2 of 21
873,000 square miles (2,261,060 square kilometers)
Located between Alaska and Siberia, the Bering Sea is known as having some of the most harrowing and unpredictable weather conditions on Earth. In fact, the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," a television show that chronicles the real-life adventures of five Alaskan King crabbing boats, takes place on the Bering Sea.
The Bering Sea's weather is most unforgiving during the winter crabbing season, when winds can reach hurricane-like forces, frigid waves become violent and ice fields pose a major threat if in a boat's path.
There are more than 400 species of fish in the Bering Sea, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. However, commercial fishing has impacted the biodiversity of the Bering Sea, leading to the extinction of several rare species, according to The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).Slide 3 of 21
Mediterranean SeaSlide 4 of 21
969,000 square miles (2,509,698 square kilometers)
Connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land, the Mediterranean Sea's name comes from the Latin word meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the Earth." The Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the world's busiest shipping routes, also making the sea a prime area for marine pollution.
With approximately 400 tons (370 million tonnes) of oil transported annually in the Mediterranean Sea and around 250 to 300 oil tankers crossing the sea every day, accidental oil spills are a common problem. There is an average of ten oil spills in the Mediterranean Sea every year, according to Greenpeace International.
A recent study has also found that the Mediterranean is feeling the effects of global warming, having become both warmer and saltier in recent decades.Slide 5 of 21
Caribbean SeaSlide 6 of 21
971,000 square miles (2,514,878 square kilometers)
The beauty of the Caribbean Sea is renowned, with its clear, warm water a steady 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). The Caribbean is also less salty than the Atlantic Ocean these qualities help make it a major tourist destination.
Possessing a counterclockwise current, the Caribbean Sea's water enters through the Lesser Antilles, exits through the Yucatán Channel and forms the Gulf Stream. Although beautiful, the sea is also dangerous, with frequent volcanic activity, earthquakes and destructive hurricanes.
Spain claimed the Caribbean Sea after Christopher Columbus came across it in 1493, making the Caribbean a main route for treasure-hunting expeditions and, later on, trading. There were indeed pirates in the Caribbean, and they preyed on Spanish ships. Today, the top local products traded in the Caribbean are petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, sugar, coffee and bananas.Slide 7 of 21
South China SeaSlide 8 of 21