Around the Block: Deep Cold Ocean

Sleeping with the fishes

The surface of the Earth is about 71% water, but Minecraft’s overworld is a bit drier – its surface is about 60% water, mostly in the form of oceans that sit between the game’s diverse landmasses.

Originally, the Minecraft map was surrounded by a single infinite ocean, but when biomes were added oceans became the glue that held them together. They were eventually made into a proper biome of their own, then they became multiple different biomes, and now – following the Update Aquatic – there are nine different kinds of ocean, all special in their own unique way. 

Today, we’re taking a trip to one of my favourites – the Deep Cold Ocean.

Swimming is slow and oceans are big, so to visit Minecraft’s ocean biomes, you’re probably going to want to bring a boat. Track down a deep cold ocean by looking for some of the following things: dark water at the surface, gravel at the seabed, kelp forests, dolphins, cod, salmon, and the occasional huge one-eyed monster shooting lasers at you.

Deep cold oceans differ from regular cold oceans because – obviously – the water is deeper. In some cases, you’ll need to swim down more than 30 blocks before reaching the seabed. On that seabed, you’ll find shipwrecks and underwater ruins, but you’ll also find underwater caves and ravines, with exposed magma blocks creating columns of bubbles that’ll drag an unsuspecting player down to the bottom.

The most interesting, and dangerous, thing that you’ll find in a deep cold ocean is an ocean monument, packed full of goodies that include Prismarine, dark Prismarine, gold, sponges, and sea lanterns. Want to find one? Hunt down a cartographer, who – if you’re lucky – might be willing to part with a map in exchange for a few emeralds. But come prepared – these huge, ancient structures are guarded by huge, ancient beasts who don’t like trespassers very much.

In the real world, about 90% of all the Earth’s water is found in the deep oceans – and this water is pretty cold – between about 0 to 3°C. It doesn’t just sit there – oceanographers have found that it actually moves around the planet extremely slowly, eventually upwelling to the surface when it hits the edge of a continent.

Until pretty recently, we thought these cold dark places were barren and devoid of life – the equivalent of undersea deserts. But more recent research has shown that they’re actually teeming with a wide variety of life. Thousands of different species of bacteria, hundreds of single-celled protozoans, and hundreds more worms, crustaceans, and molluscs can be found at a single site.

Above the seabed, you’ll also find plenty of fish, which survive in these pitch-black environments through carefully tuned senses of smell, taste, and electrosensitivity. And in some places, where cracks on the seafloor allow water to reach magma below, the water temperature rises substantially and huge communities of diverse creatures can be found pulling energy from the warm water.

So next time you feel your boat wobble as you’re crossing the ocean in Minecraft, and you’re unexpectedly pulled to the seafloor, take a moment before you drown to marvel at the incredible diversity of the life surrounding you.

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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