The National Geographic Society recognized the existence of the Southern Ocean on Tuesday.

The latter has therefore officially become the fifth ocean on Earth, reports

National Geographic


The leading charting organization, which has existed since 1915, has chosen World Oceans Day to make its choice public.

The body of water surrounding Antarctica had long been considered an ocean by the scientific community.

ICYMI: National Geographic announced an update to our Map Policy that now recognizes the Southern Ocean as the Earth's fifth ocean!

Learn why. #WorldOceansDay

- National Geographic Society (@InsideNatGeo) June 8, 2021

Its own characteristics that distinguish it

"Without an international consensus, however, we never officially recognized it," said Alex Tait, a geographer with the National Geographic Society.

The Southern Ocean therefore now has its own identity.

For several years, a debate opposed the partisans of a name specific to this body of water to other geographers.

They felt that the new ocean was in fact only the coldest and southernmost part of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.

They claimed not to detect any characteristics that made this maritime area unique.

The Southern Ocean is however "surrounded by the path of the rapid Antarctic circumpolar current", analyzes Sylvia Earle, marine biologist.

It is also the “only ocean that touches three others and completely encircles a continent instead of being surrounded by land”, continues the scientist.

The officialization of the status of the ocean is also intended to draw attention to the fragility of the environment in this region of the globe and to promote its preservation.


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  • Environment

  • Planet

  • Ocean

  • Antarctic

  • Mapping