An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface (~3.6×108 km2) is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.
More than half of this area is over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) deep. Average oceanic salinity is around 35 parts per thousand (‰) (3.5%), and nearly all seawater has a salinity in the range of 30 to 38 ‰. Scientists estimate that 230,000 marine species are currently known, but the total could be up to 10 times that number.
The ocean has a significant effect on the biosphere. Oceanic evaporation, as a phase of the water cycle, is the source of most rainfall, and ocean temperatures determine climate and wind patterns that affect life on land. Life within the ocean evolved 3 billion years prior to life on land. Both the depth and distance from shore strongly influence the amount and kinds of plants and animals that live there.