New Ocean Recognized By National Geographic: Southern Ocean

Since 1915, National Geographic has been creating maps with four oceans – but that all changed yesterday.

National Geographic announced a fifth ocean on World Oceans Day (June 8). The unique body of water around Antarctica was reclassified as a new ocean known as the Southern Ocean.

Many scientists believe this change is long overdue.

Photo: Pixabay

“The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,” said National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait.

The Southern Ocean encompasses the water “extending form the coast of Antarctica to the line of latitude at 60 degrees South,” reports National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The agency also recognizes the five named oceans but claims there is only one global ocean, “the vast body of water that covers 71 percent of the Earth.”

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For years, researchers studied the frigid body of water that encircles Antarctica to see if it really was different from the other oceans – and discovered it was.

Photo: Pixabay

The Southern Ocean “encompasses unique and fragile marine ecosystems that are home to wonderful marine life such as whales, penguins, and seals,” states Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer.

But one of the most unique traits of the ocean is the swift current. While other oceans are defined by the countries they border, the Southern Ocean is defined by Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC).

The ACC, which flows from west to east, is the strongest ocean current and arguably one of the most important. It keeps Antarctica cold and helps store carbon in the depths of the ocean.

Photo: Pixabay

There is still so much we have to learn about the “new” ocean, but scientists hope the reclassification will help with ocean conservation.

Children will learn about all five oceans and why it is important to protect them.

We all can do our part to cut down on plastic pollution. Take the plastic bag pledge below and help keep our oceans clean.

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