Easbound Pacific passages generally require travel along very high latitudes (50-60 deg), because the major mid-latitude winds and currents are westerly.
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The major surface currents are wind
generated (as most other oceanic currents are), creating a large clockwise gyre (circular feature) in the north Pacific
and a counterclockwise gyre in the south Pacific
. An equatorial countercurrent flows in the opposite direction of the adjacent currents of the major gyres north and south of the equator.
In the north, the Kuroshio current
flows eastwards across the Pacific from Japan
to the coast of North America, where it turns south as the California current
, then flows west again as the north equatorial current. Small counterclockwise gyres exist in the Gulf of Alaska
(Alaska current), and in the northwestern Pacific basin , where the flow near the Asian coast is known as the Oyashio current.
The Southern Pacific Ocean
has a counterclockwise subtropical gyre , consisting of the westward flowing South equatorial current in the north, the southwards flowing Australia
current, the Antarctic circumpolar current that flows east (at 50 - 60 Deg. S.), and the Peru
(Humboldt) Current that flows northwards near South America
There are numerous other small current systems are found throughout the Pacific Ocean
basin and its marginal seas.