Are Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Waters Not Getting Mixed? Find out the facts…

Environment Misleading

A recent viral post has reignited the claim that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans do not mix as a natural phenomenon. This assertion has sparked debate about the nature of oceanic mixing and the factors influencing it. Let’s delve into the science behind this claim to separate fact from fiction.

Social media post- 

Multiple Facebook users posted an image of a water body with the message, “The meeting point of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Their waters are not stirred. The phenomenon is based on the difference in the composition of ocean water.” Many people viewed the message and liked it.

Facebook | Archived

Many others also shared the same post, commenting on their amazement at this unbelievable phenomenon.

The Fact Crescendo team decided to fact-check this.


Contrary to the claim propagated in the post, scientific evidence overwhelmingly refutes the idea that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans remain distinct and unmixing.

The photo in question captures a natural phenomenon occurring in Canada, where freshwater from the Fraser River meets saltwater in the Strait of Georgia. This localized event does not represent the broader mixing patterns observed in the world’s oceans. Scientific evidence contradicts the notion that clay and iron content determines ocean mixing.

Furthermore, the photo captures the outflow of the Fraser River into the Strait of Georgia in Canada. This phenomenon results in a distinct milky plume as freshwater meets saltwater, observable from space. Videos are sharing the same claim; however, it has been confirmed that those were shot aboard a BC Ferries vessel travelling between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada, confirming its location.

Ocean Mixing 

The surface of the Pacific Ocean stands about 40 cm higher than the Atlantic Ocean concerning the 1000-debar surface, and the North Atlantic and North Pacific stand about 14 and 17 cm higher than the South Atlantic and Pacific, respectively. The North Atlantic is the warmest and saltiest, the South Atlantic is the coldest and densest, and the North Pacific is the least dense and least salty.

The complexities of oceanic mixing are stemmed from various factors, including differences in density, temperature, and salinity, particularly pronounced in the upper layers of the ocean. The difference in density and sea level of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans may stem from the difference in latitude of the southern tips of America, Africa, and Australia and the constriction of the west wind drift at Drake Strait, but this doesn’t make distinct layers.

However, it’s essential to note that mixing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is not uniform across all regions. Surface waters tend to mix more readily than deeper layers due to temperature, salinity, and current disparities. Certain areas, like the Drake Passage, experience more thorough mixing due to the presence of strong currents. Mixing these two oceans is more complex than a homogeneous blend.

Understanding Ocean Dynamics

Experts explain that ocean mixing occurs on a global scale through intricate systems of currents and circulation patterns. These mechanisms, such as the global ocean conveyor belt and super-gyre, facilitate the blending of waters from different ocean basins. Factors like clay and iron content play a negligible role in these large-scale mixing processes.

They also emphasize that the meeting point of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans does not exhibit the sharp demarcation seen in the viral social media posts. Instead, oceanic mixing is a dynamic and continuous process driven by complex interactions between water masses.

In essence, yes, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans do mix, but the process is not as straightforward as one might imagine. These two vast bodies of water exhibit differences in density, temperature, and salinity, creating unique challenges for their waters to blend seamlessly.

Factors Facilitating Mixing

Several factors contribute to the mixing of waters between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Whilst it is not true that the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean do not mix and remain as distinct layers, there are differences in density, temperature, and salinity between these two oceans; they do mix, although not uniformly throughout.

Here are the reasons why the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans mix:

1. Currents: Both oceans are connected by various ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Drift, and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. These currents transport water from one ocean to the other, facilitating the mixing of their waters.

2. Tides: The rise and fall of tides help stir up the water column, especially at the surface, aiding in the mixing of surface waters with deeper waters.

3. Winds: Wind patterns play a significant role in mixing the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Surface winds cause movements in the water, helping to blend waters from different regions.

In addition, while the mixing occurs, it’s not uniform throughout the oceans. Surface waters tend to mix more readily than deeper waters due to differences in temperature, salinity, and currents. Some regions, like the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica, experience more thorough mixing due to strong currents.

USA Today fact-check done for the same content can be read here.

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The claim that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans do not mix due to clay and iron content is unfounded. While the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans do have differences in their properties, they do mix . However, the mixing process is complex and influenced by various factors such as currents, tides, and wind patterns. While localized phenomena like river outflows may create distinct boundaries between freshwater and saltwater, ocean mixing does not represent the broader unmixing patterns observed with distinct layers. Understanding the dynamic nature of oceanic circulation is essential to dispelling myths and misconceptions about our planet’s marine environments.


Title: Is the Claim of Unmixing the Water Between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans True?

Written By: Fact Crescendo Team 

Result: Misleading

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