Tag Archives: Ann Henderson-Sellers

Planet “Earth”: We Should Have Called It “Sea”

Arthur C. Clarke? Carleton Ray? Ann Henderson-Sellers? James E. Lovelock? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The water covering our planet makes it look like a blue marble in pictures taken from outer space. Roughly three-quarters of the surface is enveloped in H₂O in liquid or frozen form. The science fiction luminary Arthur C. Clarke suggested that the name “Earth” should be changed to “Ocean” or “Sea”. Would you please help to find a citation for this remark?

Quote Investigator: The earliest instance of this recommendation located by QI appeared in the proceedings of a conference held in 1963. The prominent oceanographer Carleton Ray was then working at the New York Aquarium, and during the meeting he spoke about “The Scientific Need for Shallow-Water Marine Sanctuaries “. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

We still view the sea as a limitless wilderness, which of course, it is not. We view the sea apart from the earth. We call this planet Earth, yet this is the only planet that has a sea. I think we should have called it “sea”, of course, but the naming is already done.

There was also evidence that Arthur C. Clarke suggested the name “Ocean”. See below for additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1965, Scientific Use of Natural Areas, edited by Julia and Henry Field, (XVI International Congress of Zoology, Washington, August 20-27, 1963) Article VI: The Scientific Need for Shallow-Water Marine Sanctuaries by Carleton Ray of the New York Aquarium, Section: Remarks Delivered at Symposium, Quote Page 92, Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida. (Verified with scans; thanks to Thomas Fuller and the University of Maryland library system)