The South China Sea is a remarkable body of water which, while abundant with marine life and hugely popular for sailing races, has come under bitter dispute over the past few decades. It’s bordered by many different countries, with many laying claims – and China, in particular, faces scrutiny for alleged activities that they are running in the region. Just a quick glance at recent news about the region will show you that controversies are ongoing. Take a look below for 30 fun and amazing facts about the South China Sea.
1. The South China Sea links the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
2. The South China Sea has been given different names by different people. For example, in the 1500s it was known as the ‘Sea of Cham’ following the creation of the Cham Dynasty in approximately 122 AD.
3. Vietnamese people sometimes refer to the South China Sea as the ‘East Sea’.
4. The Philippines sometimes refers to a part of the sea as the ’West Philippine Sea’.
5. Approximately 50% of the world’s shipping traffic passes through the South China Sea.
6. Eight countries have borders on the South China Sea. They are China, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines.
7. 76% all of Coral reef species are found there.
8. 37% of reef fish species live in the sea, too!
9. Huge reserves of oil and gas have been discovered in the region, estimated to fill 28 billion barrels.
10. China and Taiwan lay claim to most of the South China Sea, however, small countries with borders on it also claim their interest.
11. The South China Sea covers a surface area of 3,500,000 square kilometers.
12. It is estimated that 10% of the world’s commercial fishing is conducted there.
13. There are 250 small islands, sand bars and reefs on or in the South China Sea. Some present submerged hazards for shipping, so careful navigation is essential.
14. Endangered sea turtles share the South China Sea with sharks, giant oysters, eels, and many types of fish.
15. The fish population has seriously depleted during the last decade with tuna and grouper fish suffering the greatest losses.
16. Some fishermen have resorted to extreme and dangerous methods to fish. For example, bomb fishing captures groups of fish as home-made bombs are exploded underwater and the fish float to the surface.
17. The controversial practice of ‘cyanide fishing’ is used to catch fish for the lucrative ‘live’ market. Poison is squirted into the faces of fish to stun/incapacitate them.
18. China has come under increasing criticism for the destruction of the coral reefs in the South China Sea. It is alleged that people grind up the Coral Reef as material to be used as foundations in the construction of ‘islands’. Reef fish lose their habitat, food supply and larvae are destroyed as a result.
19. Marine experts have suggested the creation of a marine ‘Peace Park’. This would be a marine area where all countries agree to respect boundaries and cease construction, drilling and fishing, to give the ecosystem a chance to recover and thrive.
20. China has three areas where risk of earthquake and/or tsunami are closely monitored – one of these is the South China Sea.
21. As a result, the ‘TACMNR’ closely monitors and reports on any unusual or concerning seismic activity in the area. ‘TACMNR’ stands for the ‘Tsunami Advisory Centre for Ministry of National Resources’.
22. The deepest section of the ‘South China Sea’ is recorded at 16,457 feet.
23. Ash from the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 can still be found on the sea bed, transported by wind and currents.
24. Weather in the area is tropical and affected by monsoons. Typhoons are frequent, and the rainfall varies between 80 and 120 inches annually.
25. The main shipping lane connecting the Pacific and Indian Ocean Ports is via the Strait of Malacca.
26. On August 18th, 2020, an aerial photograph over the South China Sea appeared to allegedly identify Chinese submarines using an undersea base.
27. The photograph was taken over Hainan Island and shows what is thought to be a ‘Type O93 Nuclear Submarine.
28. Dried Octopus from the South China Sea is available to buy online. It is used in many Asian dishes and increasing in popularity overseas.
29. The ‘Rolex South China Sea Race’ starts on Mach 31st 2021. The sea race is being organized by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, with cooperation from the Subic Bay and Manila Yacht Clubs. The race is set for a 565 nautical mile course.
30. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club took first place over the line in a race in 1962. Since then, yacht races have been a regular feature on their calendar and those of other clubs in the area.