This kind of reminds me of when NASA just randomly decided that Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore. Now you have entire generations of people that are going to consider Pluto a planet for the rest of their life coexisting with younger generations who have no idea what Pluto is.
Anyways, so apparently the globe has a new ocean now. Somebody didn’t build a new one though, they just decided to designate an area as a new ocean instead.
National Geographic is the world’s foremost authority on maps. They have been producing maps for more than 100 years. Over that time, only 4 official oceans have ever been recognized on those maps – the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. Basically the unofficial global authority on maps, National Geographic just announced they’re redesigning their maps of the world to include a fifth though, the Southern Ocean.
The recognition of the world’s fifth ocean, made official on June 8, World Oceans Day, aims to promote marine conservation in a region where industrial fishing has left marine ecosystems in a precarious state.
It’s important to note that there are many other seas and gulfs in the world, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seas are smaller and more enclosed by landmasses than oceans while gulfs are even smaller than seas and almost entirely surrounded by land.
While not necessarily visually evident on maps, the Southern ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, is separated from other oceans by a swirl of fast moving water whose current runs in different directions than the surrounding waters. The waters south of that riptide are colder and ecologically distinct from other oceans as well, and they are home to thousands of species that can live no where else on earth.
“The Southern Ocean encompasses unique and fragile marine ecosystems that are home to wonderful marine life such as whales, penguins, and seals.”
Geographers and Scientists have debated whether the waters around Antarctica had enough unique characteristics to deserve their own name, or whether they were simply cold, southern extensions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Ultimately the answer to that question appears to have been yes, those waters are unique enough.
The change, he adds, aligns with the National Geographic Society’s “Pristine Seas” campaign to conserve the world’s oceans, focusing public awareness onto specific regions of the worlds ocean that are in particular need of a conservation spotlight.
“The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it.
It’s sort of geographic nerdiness in some ways. We’ve always labeled it, but we labeled it slightly differently than other oceans. This change was taking the last step and saying we want to recognize it because of its ecological separation.”
The decision was highly praised by Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer and one of the worlds most renowned oceanographers and marine biologists.
“While there is but one interconnected ocean, bravo to National Geographic for officially recognizing the body of water surrounding Antarctica as the Southern Ocean.
Rimmed by the formidably swift Antarctic Circumpolar Current, it is the only ocean to touch three others and to completely embrace a continent rather than being embraced by them.”
ANNOUNCING: Today on #WorldOceansDay, National Geographic has updated its Map Policy to recognize the Earth’s fifth ocean: the Southern Ocean.