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Table of Contents
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km². It is bounded by Asia in the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.
See the fact file below for more information on the Indian Ocean, or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Indian Ocean worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- An ocean is a body of saltwater, and the oceans of the world cover approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contain 97% of Earth’s water.
- The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceans covering 7,240,000 sq mi (70,560,000 km2), approximately one-fifth of the total ocean area of the world.
- The Indian Ocean is bounded by Asia to the north, Antarctica in the south, Africa to the west, and Australia to the east.
- The Indian Ocean differs from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in several ways. It has fewer islands than the other oceans, and in the northern hemisphere, it is landlocked, not extending to Arctic waters like the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans do.
- The Indian Ocean also has all three types of tidal types, daily tides (diurnal), twice daily tides (semi-diurnal), and mixed tides.
- The maximum width of the Indian Ocean is 4,700 mi (7,600 km) between Africa and Australia, and the maximum length is 6,000 mi (9,600 km) between Antarctica and the Bay of Bengal.
Quick Facts About the Indian Ocean
- The Indian Ocean is the youngest of the major oceans on Earth.
- Many major rivers flow into the Indian Ocean, including the Zambezi, Jubba, Shatt al-Arab, Indus, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Godavari, Krishna, Narmada, and Irrawaddy.
- The currents in the Indian Ocean are mainly controlled by the monsoon.
- There are only two trenches in the entire Indian Ocean – the Java Trench and the Makran Trench.
- The sea lanes within the Indian Ocean are extremely important for trade, as they provide major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
- The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean on Earth.
History of the Indian Ocean
- The Indian Ocean opened up around 156 million years ago when Africa separated from the supercontinent, Gondwana. From there, the Indian subcontinent broke away from the Australia-Antarctica subcontinent between 135-125 million years ago.
- Historically important trading ports in the Indian Ocean include Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai in India, and Fremantle and Melbourne in Australia.
- Singapore has the busiest container port on the Indian Ocean, and Durban in South Africa is the largest and busiest port in Africa.
- The Indian Ocean came to prominence during the 1500s, known as the “age of discovery”, as it was an important trade route for the silk trade and was also used by sailors to find a route around Africa.
- During the 17th and 18th centuries, European powers sought control of the trade routes in the Indian Ocean, but Britain was most successful.
- The Suez Canal, a 120 mile (193 km) man-made waterway, connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. It opened in 1869, making trade between Europe and the eastern world shorter and quicker.
Geography of the Indian Ocean
- The average depth of the Indian Ocean is 12,274 ft (3,741 mt).
- It has many narrow continental shelves that average 120 miles in width.
- The Indian Ocean is located in the Eastern Hemisphere and passes through the Ninety East Ridge, a structure on the floor of the ocean that runs nearly parallel to the 90th meridian and is over 3,000 miles (4828 km) long.
- It is also artificially connected to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.
- The climate of the Indian Ocean north of the Equator, as well as the ocean’s currents, are mostly controlled by a monsoon climate.
- Due to the melting of polar caps, the Indian Ocean widens by approximately 8 inches (20 cm) each year.
- Phytoplankton in the Indian Ocean is declining due to global warming. Phytoplankton is a necessary food source for many life forms in oceans, which are subsequently also declining.
- The ocean also has a low oxygen content.
- Although it receives nearly 4,000 miles (6437 km) of river runoff, the water in the ocean evaporates at a high rate, again due to its temperature.
- Due to its many borders with large countries, the Indian Ocean is considered to be a “closed ocean”.
- On average, the Indian Ocean maintains a temperature of 22 °C (72℉ ), although this is warmer nearer to the Equator where temperatures closer to 28 °C (82℉) are commonly recorded.
- An abundance of seamounts can be found in the Indian Ocean, particularly in the Central Indian Basin. A seamount resembles a mountain rising out of the deep-sea floor but not reaching the surface of the ocean.
- Some marine life encountered in the Indian Ocean includes whale sharks, dugongs, sea turtles, sharks, and humpback whales.
- Also found in and around the Indian Ocean are many tropical fish and bird species, including the rare pink pigeon and echo parakeet.
Diversity in the Indian Ocean
- The dodo bird once existed on the island of Mauritius but is now extinct.
- Several endangered turtle species, such as the leatherback and loggerhead Turtles, live in the Indian Ocean.
- The discovery of many underwater thermal vents led to the discovery of vent animals such as mussels, anemones, and gastropods. These animals live in the darkness and eat bacteria, and can convert sulfur into energy.
- Many species of sharks live in the Indian Ocean, including whale sharks, hammerheads, and great whites.
- One can also find nearly 28 species of anemonefish in the Indian Ocean. Anemonefish are so-named because they swim among and make their homes in highly toxic sea anemones. They come in a variety of colors, from pink and red, to yellow and black, and anemonefish feast on algae and zooplankton.
Trade and Economy in the Indian Ocean
- The two most well-known waterways in the Indian Ocean are the Suez Canal in Egypt and the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.
- Singapore has the busiest container port on the Indian Ocean, and Durban (located in South Africa) is the largest and busiest port in Africa.
- The Northern Indian Ocean is the most important trade route for oil. It connects the Middle East with Asia, and each day tankers carry about 17 million barrels of crude oil from the Persian Gulf.
- 40% of the world’s offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean.
Did You Know
- Dozens of ships have been wrecked and sunk in all the oceans of the world, including the Indian Ocean. Some wrecks have formed artificial reefs, and these attract tourists, snorkelers, and divers.
- Hundreds of lighthouses have been built to mark dangerous coastlines and hazardous reefs around the Indian Ocean. A lighthouse is a tall tower with a very bright light called a beacon at the top. Lighthouses are used by sailors to help guide their ships at night.
- The scientific study of the oceans is Oceanography, and an oceanographer is a person who studies the geology, chemistry, and biology of oceans.
Indian Ocean Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Indian Ocean across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Indian Ocean worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Indian Ocean, which is the third largest of the world’s oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km². It is bounded by Asia in the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
- Controversy in the Indian Ocean
- Monster Monsoon
- Island Name Game
- Indian Ocean Crossword
- Acrostic Poem
- Indian Ocean Garbage Patch
- Design an Island
- Indian Ocean Wordsearch
- Unscrambling Activity
- Tropical Coloring Page
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Swim In The Indian Ocean?
The Indian Ocean is massive and has some wonderful beaches and swimming areas. One needs to be aware of dangerous rocky outcrops, strong undertows that can pull swimmers under the water, and steep drops on the ocean floor. It is always best to swim where beaches are declared safe, and lifeguards are present.
What are the biggest creatures in the Indian Ocean?
The Blue Whale, which is the largest animal to have ever existed on Earth, lives in the Indian Ocean. Several species of sharks also live in the Indian Ocean, including the great white shark and the great hammerhead shark.
Why does the Indian Ocean look blue?
Water is not colorless but has a slight blue tint to it. The Indian Ocean looks even bluer due to light absorption, similar to the blue light one sees in the sky.
What are the biggest islands in the Indian Ocean?
There are many big islands in the Indian Ocean. Among the most well-known for sunny holidays are Seychelles, Madagascar, and Mauritius, all off the east coast of Africa, Reunion off the coast of France, and the Maldives off the coast of Portugal.
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Link will appear as Indian Ocean Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 24, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.