California Beaches


California Beaches and Our Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

If you think it's a big world out there, then you'll be amazed to know it's an even bigger ocean! The Pacific Ocean that touches all 1,000 miles of California shoreline is the Mama & the Papa of the Earth's oceans. It is the deepest ocean reaching over 6 1/2 mile deep and it is the biggest water body with over 63.8 million square miles or roughly 46% of the world's water ocean surface and 1/3 of the all surface areas. Our Pacific Ocean is larger than all the land area combined on the planet.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions extending from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east. At 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. 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. The Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 35,797 feet.

There are 15 beach counties in California out of a total of 58 counties. That's just under 25% of California counties with Pacific Coast beaches. Yet the bulk of the state's population resides within this popular area.

When a series of shark attacks in the Pacific happen as we've seen with recent deaths and near-misses such as survivor stories from those who sucker punched or karate chopped their way to survival, it offers one view that we humans are clearly not the Masters of Our Universe. However, as stewards, we struggle with responsible practices. Currently scientist are trying to decide if they should do sound blasts near Diablo nuclear power plant to determine earthquake faults. The action could harm large mammals such as whales and sharks that use sonar to navigate, communicate and survive.

From debris and nuclear radiation from Fukushima reaching our California shores, to over-fishing concerns, the Pacific Ocean doesn't just belong to California. Contributing to our very existence, it is a world resource that makes our land-based home a paradise of fine weather, fantastic recreation, and eternal beauty.


  • Pacific Ocean generally moves clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The California Current is a Pacific Ocean current that moves south along the west coast of North America, beginning off southern British Columbia, and ending off southern Baja California.
  • The Pacific Ocean is the only ocean which is almost totally bounded by subduction zones, places where one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate and sinks into the mantle as the plates converge.
  • There are over 90 major ports based in the Pacific Ocean in countries far & wide--U.S., Canada, Australia, China, Mexico, Japan, China, Ecuador, Thailand, South Korea, and many Pacific Rim & South American countries.
  • Ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean range from freezing near the poles to 86 degrees F near the equator.
  • The ocean's current name was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. He encountered favorable winds as he reached the ocean and called it Mar Pacifico in Portuguese, meaning "peaceful sea".


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