The stormy seas of Antarctica

Open ocean

The open ocean is the sunlit top layer of the ocean beyond the continental shelves. The vast bulk of the sea, it covers over 360,000,000 square kilometres of the Earth's surface. It's referred to as the 'marine desert' because nutrients are lower here than in the shallow seas and life can be scarce. Open ocean, or pelagic, predators therefore have to travel fast and far to find food, hence many – such as marlin, tuna and dolphins – are swift swimmers.

What grows here?

Where you find Open ocean

Map showing the location of the Open ocean habitat


Useful behaviours for this habitat


Ecozones where this habitat is found


Other Marine habitats

BBC News about Open ocean