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Very little is told about the history of the planet Tatooine, but many facts indicate that the planet was not always desert (canyons, Dune Seas, sandy plains, salt flats). Weren't there oceans and/or thickets?

Even an article on Wookieepedia gives some tips:

Once the seabed of one of Tatooine's vast oceans, the salt flat became a dry expanse of a hard-packed fusion of clay and sodium-rich sand blown in from the Western Dune Sea.[1]

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    Geologic history is many,many times longer than the social and political history of intelligent beings. There is unlikely to be any canon or noncanon Star Wars fiction set in the very distant past eras when Tatooine had oceans. – M. A. Golding Jan 27 at 19:57
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    If I remember correctly, Tatooine is pictured as having oceans in a brief scene in the comic series Dawn of the Jedi (now no longer considered canon). If I can get a book for reference, I will respond as an answer. – DragonChampion7 Jan 27 at 23:14
  • @DragonChampion7 Yes, that's all true, but not yet shown in the new canon, although I always always believed that so as shown in the comic is a canon. – Эш Уильямс Jan 28 at 14:02
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    This is a useless comment, but having been to Tatooine, Tunisia as part of my thesis: yes, very nearby is the Mediterranean :) – Mikey Jan 28 at 17:00
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    You don't have to go to comics or other no-longer-canon stuff for this. In the original films (forget if it was Ep. IV or VI), there's a scene on Tatooine where the skeleton of a sea-serpent like creature is seen on the horizon. If I could get a picture, I'd make an answer out of that. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 28 at 17:28
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The fully canon Ultimate Star Wars describes Tatooine as having once been possessed of life-bearing ocean(s) and a water cycle that included rain.

According to Jawa folklore, the great Tatooine desert known as the Dune Sea was once a true ocean. Ancient fossil-bearing rock and eroded canyons seem to confirm the Jawas' stories, but most of Tatooine's inhabitants still find it hard to believe water ever flowed on the planet's arid, sand-covered surface.

The fact that the change occurred within the scope of 'folklore' would suggest that the shift was recent, geologically speaking, potentially within thousands (or at most tens of thousands) of years.

  • Since there is no longer much plant life, does that mean it will run out of oxygen at some point? – z0r Jan 29 at 0:02
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    @z0r - I was intrigued to learn the other day that deep-core samples (on Earth) contained microbes at a depth of a mile or more and that these microbes may produce more oxygen than the entire surface biomass combined. Just because you can't see life doesn't mean that it's not out there in vast quantities. – Valorum Jan 29 at 0:06
  • @Valorum it's true that microbes exist that deep, and the "deep biosphere" might contain hundreds of times more biomass than the surface life we know. However, making oxygen requires photosynthesis, and there's no light underground. Those organisms are methanogens and other kinds of chemoautotroph - they don't make oxygen. – Nathaniel Jan 29 at 7:56
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The fact that Tatooine even has life and a breathable atmosphere would realistically mean that there was surface water at some point. Tatooine's inspiration from the Dune novels, Arrakis, had oceans at one point, but almost all the water ended up sequestered underground within the bodies of larval sandworms and underground reservoirs created by the sandworm burrowing.

In one comic, Dawn of the Jedi, it was described as "lush" with "gleaming cities set by blue seas":

Two yellow suns loom close over a world with white clouds, blue ocean, and green land.

Tatooine, a lush world where twin suns warm fair skies. A thriving world, where the Kumumgah live peacefully in gleaming cities along its blue seas.

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    This is a great answer (complete with a nice panel) but you might want to make it clear that this comic isn't part of Star Wars' official canon. – Valorum Jan 28 at 9:29
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    It may also be worth noting the Legends explanation for why Tatooine no longer has oceans by the time of the movies: starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Bombardment_of_Tatooine – Milo P Jan 28 at 17:16
  • So far as I know, there's no such thing as a canon Star Wars comic. – David Johnston Feb 6 at 7:17

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