Ferdinand Magellan named it Mare Pacificum - The Peaceful Sea. Perhaps he would have given this vast ocean a different name if he had witnessed its more violent moods. Let's note its mind-boggling vital statistics. It covers 30% of The Earth's total surface area and is therefore larger than the total land surface of our planet. Area calculations vary slightly but there are at least 155,000 square kilometres of salty waves. Its average depth is 4,000 metres but at one point, in the western Pacific's Mariana Trench, it is almost 11,000 metres deep. The Pacific has 135,663 kilometres of coastline and contains at least 25,000 islands. You'll like the last fact - I had to search around for this number for quite a while: What is the volume of water in The Pacific Ocean? Answer - An estimated 640,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic centimetres! That's an awful lot of water.
I have often thought about how the Pacific was populated by the Melanesians, Micronesians and the greatest travellers of all - The Polynesians. With only stars and their instincts to guide them, voyaging in hollowed out canoes, they crossed vast swathes of this ocean, making new settlements in islands as far apart as Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. That history of migration is quite breathtaking even though little of it is recorded in an easily recognisable manner. Arguably, the early Polynesians were the bravest seafarers of all. What drove them onwards across the blue ocean we shall probably never know. Were they looking for something or were they escaping?
What do western people know of The Pacific, this vast body of water that covers almost a third of our planet? Mostly we know nothing. Many of us know more about The Moon than we do about that "peaceful sea".
These waves are surely endless
Their rhythm like the very pulse of our world
This sky is entire and by night
It reveals the same stars that guided our forefathers
Pull harder Amanaki whose name means hope
Beyond this horizon we shall see distant clouds
A wisp of pale grey smoke faraway
Marking the island where Tangaroa dwelt
In faraway times before waking and sleeping
Before he made the flying fishes and the rain
And it is there that we shall make our home.