Cartographers have debated the existence of a fifth ocean for years. The Southern Ocean, due to its unique conditions, is already the fifth ocean in its own right along with those of all life: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic.
From now on there is five oceans on Earth, not four. Yes, you read it right. If you grew up learning about the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Arctic, it’s time to make space in your memory for the fifth member: the Southern Ocean.
This ocean, which surrounds the Antarctic continent, has been the center of debate for years. Imagine it as a blue ribbon of ice that surrounds Antarctica, separating it from the other great seas. What makes it so special? The Southern Ocean is defined not by continents, but by a current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
This current, which flows from east to west around Antarctica, creates a kind of invisible ring, with colder and less salty waters than those of the north. If you visualize the map that heads this news, it is as if you were looking at a necklace and the Southern Ocean was the cord that joins the pieces of ice islands.
But, What led to it being considered its own ocean and not just an extension of the others? For a long time, geographers debated whether this blue cord It was simply an extension of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans or deserved its own name.
Recognized by National Geographic in 2021
In accordance with National Geographic, the recognition of the Southern Ocean as the world’s fifth ocean is not recent for everyone. The United States Board on Geographic Names had already approved this name in 1999. However, It was in 2021 when National Geographic made its recognition official.
The reason behind this change is not just nomenclature, but environmental awareness. It is hoped that by recognizing the Southern Ocean as Earth’s fifth ocean, it will help promote the conservation of its unique ecosystem..
Industrial fishing has been a problem in this region for years and, given the importance of this ocean to global balance, protection is essential.
Furthermore, the advance of the thaw every day makes it, even more, an undeniable reality. In short, the next time you look at a map, remember: the world has one more ocean, full of mysteries and vital for our ecology.