Atlantic Ocean Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The Atlantic stretches from the top to the bottom of the globe, dividing the continents of the Americas with Africa, Europe, and Asia. Learn about this vast ocean, the creatures that inhabit it, and how it affects planet Earth.

A Big Ocean

Maybe you've heard that Columbus 'sailed the ocean blue' in 1492? This ocean was the Atlantic, the second-largest body of water in the world, and the voyage took awhile because Columbus traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in three ships that were each about two or three times the size of a school bus. It took him about a month to go from one side of the Atlantic to the other, but today you can take a plane from New York to London or Paris in a single day. In fact, some people have even swam across the Atlantic, although it took them four months to do so.

Heat map of Atlantic Ocean. The blue color indicates much colder temperatures than land.
Atlantic Ocean

How big is the Atlantic Ocean? It covers over forty million square miles, ten times the size of the United States. The Atlantic is only half the size of the Pacific Ocean, but it's slightly larger than the Indian Ocean and about five times as large as the Arctic Ocean. With so much space to swim around, many of the largest creatures in the world call this ocean home.

Famous Residents

The largest animal in all of the world, the blue whale, swims through the Atlantic Ocean in a never-ending search for food. The blue whale eats some of the smallest creatures on Earth, shrimp-like creatures called krill. The famous great white sharks, the largest predatory fish, uses all 300 of its teeth to kill and eat almost anything big enough to provide a decent meal. And dolphins also thrive in the Atlantic Ocean, where they can find prey in schools, or fish that gather together for protection.

Great White Shark
Great White Shark

Many of the fish that we eat at supermarkets or restaurants come from the Atlantic Ocean too. Cod, which are famous for being delicious in fried fish and chips, can be found in huge schools in Atlantic Canada. The tuna that you use to make sandwiches grow particularly large in the Mediterranean Sea, the part of the Atlantic that stretches between southern Europe and northern Africa. And the coasts of New England are famous for producing gigantic (and delicious!) lobsters and crabs.

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