How many oceans are there in the world? For the longest time, the answer has been four – Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic oceans. But the answer is now changing. Not four, now there are five oceans, Southern Ocean being the latest addition to the list. National Geographic, one of the world’s most prestigious and well-known mapmakers, has declared the presence of this fifth ocean. “The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,” National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait said in a report on published on National Geographic’s official website.
The new fifth ocean of the world
The body of water that surrounds Antarctica and is known as the Southern Ocean, is our newest ocean in the earth. The Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica, will now have the same status as the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as the same typeface.
The Southern Ocean, however, isn’t quite new. Since Antarctica and South America split 30 million years ago, this body of water has existed. The Southern Ocean, according to the magazine, is the only ocean that “touches three other oceans and entirely embraces a continent rather than being enveloped by them.” Its northernmost point is 60 degrees south latitude.
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which formed 34 million years ago, also defines it. Around Antarctica, the current travels from west to east. The development comes at a time when the need to put more focus on the region’s peril and the need for conservation has became imminent. Antarctica has been facing the brunt of climate change and rapid warming of the planet and scientists are studying its impact on the Southern Ocean, which is home to a delicate marine ecosystem that includes whales, penguins and seals.
In 2000, the boundaries of the ocean were proposed but all countries did not agree to it thus making it difficult to be recognised by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).