So there's a sea, right by my house. How do I know if it's been explored, and what info do we have about it?

According to the internet, about 5-10% of the world's oceans has been explored.

Is there a map that shows which parts of the ocean have been explored, and which haven't? Does it show what has been discovered about X part of the ocean etc.? Where can I find such information?

If I just google "Unexplored parts of the world", it'd drive me to very specific and popular parts of the earth, many of which have actually been explored (to a certain point), such as the Mariana Trench etc.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking about exploration of the sea-floor? $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Sep 7, 2017 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ Everything, really. Marine life, depth, seafloor etc. $\endgroup$
    – Coto
    Sep 7, 2017 at 1:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's probably too much for one question. You will need to ask multiple questions or narrow this down. $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ @farrenthorpe Well I'm not asking for very specific details, and people can answer what can be answered. $\endgroup$
    – Coto
    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:22
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    $\begingroup$ Any answer will depend heavily on the definition of what you want researched (as Cococ commented) and on the level of detail. Even the claim 5-10% ... has been explored makes no sense without specifying both factors. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Doggen
    Sep 7, 2017 at 6:14

1 Answer 1


The simplest way to find out the basic information about your nearby ocean is to check Google Earth, which has an Ocean layer that often includes details about noteworthy features and discoveries.

This story from Scripps Institution of Oceanography explains some of the updates that were made in late 2015:

The new global gravity map, recently published by [geophysicist David] Sandwell and colleagues in the journal Science, was used in combination with available depth soundings to provide a more detailed picture of the mountains and valleys along Earth’s most unexplored expanse – the ocean floor.

This essay in Scientific American helps explain some of the extent of our knowledge:

So the “95% unexplored” meme doesn’t really tell the full story of our exploration of the oceans. When it comes to having a large-scale map, the ocean floor is perhaps not as unexplored as we might think, with 100% coverage to a resolution of 5km and 10%-15% coverage at around 100m resolution. That 10%-15% is similar in resolution to the current global maps of Mars and Venus.

But our exploration of the oceans depends on what we want to know about them. If our questions are: “What does it look like down there?” or: “What’s going on down there?”, then the area that has been “explored” is arguably even less than the 0.05% mapped so far at the very highest resolution by sonar.

The areas mapped in most detail will be near coasts and common ship routes. Oceanographic vessels run their sonar systems almost continuously, so the maps will have lines of very high resolution detail running through them (artifacts that are often interpreted to look like lost cities or roadways).

But surprising discoveries are still made. It was only in 2012 that a Scripps expedition found a methane seep that was later determined to support an elaborate chemosynthetic ecosystem just 20 miles off the coast of Del Mar in Southern California.


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