The National Geographic magazine has recognised the ‘Southern Ocean’ as the world’s fifth ocean on June 8, 2021. The change in name was in alignment with the National Geographic Society’s initiative to conserve the world’s oceans. The magazine has usually followed the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) on marine names, it said in an article notifying the change. The IHO had recognised ‘Southern Ocean’ as a distinct body of water surrounding Antarctica in 1937, but had repealed the same in 1953, according to the magazine. This time the National Geographic magazine is hoping others will soon follow suit.
The Southern Ocean is the only ocean to touch three other oceans, says the magazine and it is also defined by its Antarctic Circumpolar Current that was formed 34 million years ago. The United States Board on Geographic Names as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both, recognize the term ‘Southern Ocean’. The Southern Ocean is home to large populations of whales, penguins, and seals. But, industrial fishing on species like krill and Patagonian toothfish had been a concern for decades, the magazine said. National Geographic’s decision hopes to draw attention to the exploitation and rapid warming of the Southern Ocean due to global warming.