To the naked eye, our oceans look like a huge, endless expanse of water. In actuality, they’re divided into zones and areas, similar to how land is segmented into countries and states. From your country’s shores to the lawless high seas, see how the vast global ocean is made up of smaller zones.
Cartoonist Jim Toomey—whose daily comic strip, Sherman’s Lagoon, is syndicated in more than 250 newspapers in the United States—has joined forces with The Pew Charitable Trusts to illustrate "ocean zones" and other terms associated with our oceans.
Watch the full ocean terms video series: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/collections/2016/01/cartoon-crash-course-a-visual-glossary-of-ocean-terminology
To the naked eye, the ocean looks like a vast expanse of water, boundless in reach, and soul stirring in its mystery.
The ocean is actually divided into zones and areas, sort of like how we’ve divvied up land into countries, states, and so forth.
For starters, every coastal and island nation has an exclusive economic zone, or EEZ.
That area of the sea and seabed that extends outward from the country’s shoreline, up to 200 nautical miles offshore.
Each country has exclusive rights within its EEZ to exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources there – including marine life; minerals, gas and oil beneath the sea floor; and wind and hydrologic energy.
Some countries subdivide their EEZs, into areas with special restrictions. For example, a zone where only smaller boats are allowed to fish, or marine reserve that’s closed to any activity that might disturb the plants and animals that live there.
The area of ocean outside of all exclusive economic zones is called the high seas. It is often referred to as the commons because, technically, the high seas are a resource to be shared, managed and governed by everyone in the world.
There’s no zoning commission for the high seas, and no signs to tell marine creatures that they’ve crossed that border. There’s not even a TSA security checkpoint!
The United Nations does have a treaty, called the Law of the Sea, which sets some rules for what people can do out here… But it’s all very loosely governed.
The high seas account for about two-thirds of the oceans, or about 98 million square miles, which means each of us can claim – let’s see, 7 billion into 98 million, carry the 2, convert the square miles – a nice little parcel of water in our real estate portfolios.