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National Geographic recognises Southern Ocean as Earth's fifth ocean

11:50 PM Jun 09, 2021 | FPJ Bureau

The National Geographic announced on Tuesday that it is officially recognising the Southern Ocean as the Earth's fifth ocean, an announcement that coincided with World Oceans Day. The Southern Ocean is a vital home for marine ecosystems and a focal point for the southern hemisphere. It directly surrounds Antarctica, extending from the continent's coastline to 60 degrees south latitude, excluding the Drake Passage and Scotia Sea.

The ocean's borders touch three of the four other oceans that exist on Earth — the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific. But what makes the Southern Ocean different from the others is that rather than being largely defined by the land that surrounds it, this body of water is unique because of a current that lies within. This current brings with it colder and less salty water than what is found just north of the region. This current, estimated to be approximately 34 million years old, is what makes the ecology of the Southern Ocean so distinct, providing a unique habitat for thousands of species, National Geographic said in its magazine.

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The Southern Ocean is a vital home for marine ecosystems and a focal point for the southern hemisphere. It directly surrounds Antarctica, extending from the continent's coastline to 60 degrees south latitude, excluding the Drake Passage and Scotia Sea. The ocean's borders touch three of the four other oceans that exist on Earth — the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific.

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But what makes the Southern Ocean different from the others is that rather than being largely defined by the land that surrounds it, this body of water is unique because of a current that lies within.

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