Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean

The warmest ocean on Earth

The James Bond Islands, located off the southern coast of Thailand, have a unique look due to the bizarre shape of the rocks. These islands became famous as the filming location for one of the episodes of the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”.

The Indian Ocean is the third largest and warmest ocean on Earth, located between Africa, South Asia, Australia and Antarctica. It laps the coasts of many countries including India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Madagascar, Australia, Indonesia, and many others. The Indian Ocean is known for its variety of marine life forms, beautiful coral reefs, and magnificent tropical islands. The ocean plays an important role in world trade and transportation, being a key route for international shipping.


The Indian Ocean came into the sphere of interest of colonial powers only after the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India. After that, regular shipping began on its expanses.

In 1497, by order of King Emmanuel I of Portugal, an expedition of four ships headed by the experienced navigator Vasco da Gama set sail. The main purpose of the expedition was to explore the sea route to India. Such riches of the distant continent, such as spices and silk, were very valuable in the then Europe and, since the time of Marco Polo, who crossed Asia by land in the XIII century, were becoming increasingly important economically for European monarchies. Vasco da Gama, having rounded the Cape of Good Hope, entered the Indian Ocean and in 1498 reached the shores of India. In 1502 he led a second expedition to India. This time he led a flotilla of 20 ships. His task was to consolidate Portugal’s dominance in the Indian Ocean. This maritime campaign ended in 1504. Learning of the Portuguese achievements, other maritime powers also rushed to the southern seas. Sir Francis Drake sailed under the English flag to Tasmania. At the time of the great geographical discoveries, the main task of maritime expeditions was always the exploration of new lands and routes to them. Nowadays, such expeditions, primarily oceanographic, are undertaken to explore the sea itself. They investigate not only currents and submarine depths, but also the effects of industry in coastal and island nations on the ocean’s ecology. The tourism boom of recent decades has proven to be a double-edged sword: on the one hand, tourism brings good income to poor countries in the region, but on the other hand, scuba divers and souvenir hunters contribute significantly to the destruction of reefs.


Six sevenths of the Indian Ocean is located in the Southern Hemisphere: between India in the north, Africa in the west, the Southern Ocean in the south and Australia in the east.

With an area of over 73 million km2, the Indian Ocean is considerably inferior in size to its “big brothers” – the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The submarine Central Indian Ridge runs through the very center of the ocean, stretching southward in the shape of an inverted letter Y. The East Indian Ridge runs parallel to it. There are a total of 11 deep basins in the Indian Ocean. The average depth of the Indian Ocean is about 3872 meters, and the greatest depth, 7258 meters, is recorded in the eastern part of the Zond Trench. The islands of the Indian Ocean are very diverse, on its expanses there is one of the four largest islands in the world Madagascar, and Sri Lanka, and as if specially created for resorts archipelagos consisting of tiny islands: Maldives and Seychelles.

Flora and fauna

Monsoons are the driving force of the Indian Ocean. Under their influence, currents mix and change each other. Since 1979, a project has been underway in the Indian Ocean to study the effect of winds on currents and the flora and fauna of the ocean. The animal life of the Indian Ocean is not as diverse as, for example, that of the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, the Indian Ocean is home to approximately 1,000 species of fish and more than 140 species of coral. And the southern Indian Ocean is home to more than 100 species of whales. Unfortunately, this diversity of species is under constant threat. Tankers carrying oil from the Persian Gulf countries to buyers pass through the Indian Ocean. Any major accident would mean an ecological disaster and the death of many animals, birds and plants.

General Information

  • Eleven deep basins.
  • Indian Ocean seas: Arabian, Andaman, Arafura, Red, Laccadive, Timor.
  • Bays: Bengal, Persian, Aden, Oman and Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • Area: 73.5 million km2 (with marginal seas).
  • Water volume: 292 million km2.
  • Average depth: 3872 meters.
  • Greatest depth: 7258 m (near Java Island in Indonesia).
  • Length: 3100 km between Africa and Indonesia and 4500 km between India and Antarctica.

Climate and weather

  • Predominantly tropical, monsoonal.
  • Water temperature 30-32ºC in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, 28-29ºC near Java and the northern coast of Australia.

Fun facts

  • The first oceanographic expedition to the Indian Ocean took place in 1873. It was undertaken by British explorers aboard the ship Challenger.
  • Even today, stable wooden sailing ships of the same type used 400 years ago can still be found in the Indian Ocean. They serve both as ferries and cargo ships.
  • Masirah Island off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea is the last place known to scientists where many of the endangered species of sea turtles lay their eggs.
  • The world’s most famous postage stamp is printed on the shores of the Indian Ocean – it’s known as the Blue Mauritius.
  • The Indian Ocean is one of the few places on Earth where piracy still persists. The narrow Straits of Malacca and Zonda are particularly dangerous.
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