Environment

Where Is The Indian Ocean?

The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the earth's oceans, covering more than 27 million square miles.

5. Description

The Indian Ocean courses across 20% of the world's ocean surface. Its name was taken from the country of India, where it has a quite extensive coastline. In actuality, however, many countries simlarly have a long coastline along the Indian Ocean, though India still has a lion's share that it has laid claim to. The Indian Ocean has Asia on its north, Africa in the west, Australia in the east, and on its south is the Southern Ocean north of Antarctica. Its climate varies considerably from north to south. The monsoon pattern, for instance, dominates its northern portion above the equator. October to April brings strong north-east winds, while May to October brings the south and the west winds. The Indian Ocean also has the warmest weather of all of the world's five oceans.

4. Historical Role

History has seen the best, and earliest, great civilizations sailing the Indian Ocean's waters. The Indian Ocean was the catalyst from where the Sumerians, ancient Egyptians, Indus Valley, ancient Persia, and Funan Kingdom civilizations all developed. The Phoenicians also sailed its waters. In the First Century BC, the Greeks crossed it. In the Second Century AD, the Tamil kingdoms traded with Roman-controlled Egypt using the ocean's monsoon winds to cross it. Although many ancient civilizations had the skills to cross it, not one colonized its many islands, as what we now refer to the Pacific islanders instead migrated to the islands in the Pacific Ocean. The first European navigator to cross the Indian Ocean was Vasco da Gama.

3. Modern Significance

After World War II, many countries tried to dominate the Indian Ocean area for trade, but they were unsuccessful in this endeavor. The USSR and the United States also negotiated to establish naval bases in the Indian Ocean, but only the US, and later the UK who also pursued it, were successful, and both currently maintain one naval base each on the Diego Garcia Atoll. Most of the countries along its borders have chosen to establish a “zone of peace”, wherein to continue using the Indian Ocean as a peaceful shipping lane shared by all. It's ocean depths contain about 40% of the world's offshore oil reserves as well, and currently seven countries are mining its placer mineral deposits.

2. Habitat

The Seychelles is a nation made up of about 115 islands, and most of these are either granitic islands or coralline islands. In the granitic islands, most species are endemic, while the coralline islands have coral reef ecosystem wherein marine life biodiversity is at its most prolific. Throughout the Indian Ocean, its island fauna includes sea turtles, seabirds, and many more exotic species. Barrow Island has spinifex grasslands, salt flats, coral reefs, sand dunes, rocky shores, and sandy beaches. Christmas Island has corals and mangrove habitats. The Comoro Islands has coral reefs and mangrove forests. The Maldives has coral reefs that are truly exploding with marine life biodiversity. Most of the Indian Ocean marine life is endemic, as well as are most species of its islands' terrestrial flora and fauna.

1. Threats and Disputes

The marine habitats of the Indian Ocean are being depleted of their inhabitants by overfishing practices from commercial fishermen hailing from many different countries in the area. In 2010, a large garbage accumulation was seen sailing from Australia to Africa, while the oil and gas extraction industries' means and methods are also major environmental concerns. The nation of Mauritius has recently banned coral sand extraction while its coral reefs are being rehabilitated. The endangered marine animals list in the Indian Ocean notably includes, but is not limited to, all manner of sea turtles, seals, dugongs, and whales. In fact, the whole marine ecosystem of the Indian Ocean seems to be wasting away as warm temperatures continue to escalate, which is in turn causing a 20% decrease in its phytoplankton which makes up the base components of the marine food chain.

More in Environment