National Geographic has officially recognized a fifth ocean on planet Earth.
Beginning June 8, World Oceans Day, National Geographic cartographers will acknowledge the body of water that borders Antarctica as the Southern 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 the announcement.
The lack of international agreement on the Southern Ocean remains, but National Geographic will now include labeling for the Southern Ocean on all of its maps.
The National Geographic Society’s map policy committee says it had considered recognizing the Southern Ocean for years as they mulled if the body of water had enough unique characteristics to separate itself from the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and Indian Oceans.
Some factors that ultimately led to this decision were the Southern Ocean’s distinct current and unique marine ecosystems.
“We’ve always labeled it, but we labeled it slightly differently than other oceans,” Tait said. “This change was taking the last step and saying we want to recognize it because of its ecological separation.”
The National Geographic Society, which has been making maps since 1915, hopes this change will implore people to help conserve the Southern Ocean.