Ocean’s Day 2021 Came With a Gift: A New Ocean!
National Geographic announced that 2021 is the year we got a new ocean. No, we’re not being silly! We have been upgraded from 4 to 5 Oceans and we can’t wait to share all the details of our brand-new ocean with you.
At Gosili, we’re committed to helping divert plastic pollution from our oceans. With a new Ocean to protect, we’re expanding our efforts by creating an impactful partnership with Lonely Whale. Read all the details of this ocean-saving partnership here.
Now, If you’re wondering how many oceans there are, the answer has recently changed. Let’s learn more about the fifth ocean of the world.
When Did We Get a New Ocean?
On World’s Oceans Day 2021 (June 8) National Geographic recognized a new member of the ocean family— the Southern Ocean. The new family member surrounds Antarctica with its cold and pristine waters.
The Southern Ocean plays an important role in climate change. By recognizing it as what it is— an ocean— it’s easier to raise awareness about what’s going on in its cold, mesmerizing waters. But we’ll get to that.
So… How Many Oceans Are in the World?
You probably grew up knowing four (of the now five) oceans. The Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans have been recognized for a long time. We learned about their unique characteristics in school and where they’re located. You also learned some incredible facts about the 4 oceans— before the 5th was announced— in a previous blog (read it here!).
After 100+ years of unofficially recognizing the Southern Ocean and labeling it in different ways, it finally makes its debut as our fifth ocean. Now, since you didn’t get a chance to learn about The Southern Ocean in school, we’re dedicating an entire blog to it.
Introducing The World’s 5th Ocean (Drum Roll, Please...)
The Southern Ocean! It’s located around Antarctica and its unique landscape is home to a wide array of wildlife like penguins, orcas, seals, birds, and more. Although its new Ocean badge won’t make tourism any easier, since reaching Antarctica is a difficult trek, the Southern Ocean has many worth-seeing qualities.
We can’t take you there physically— but we can paint a picture of what it’s like.
What characterizes the Southern Ocean are its baby blue waters and imposing glaciers. The frigid landscape is like no other— the air is cold, and so is the water, but its beauty is what takes your breath away, being one of the most unique and pristine landscapes in the world.
The unique landscape makes room for unique facts and characteristics— let’s explore them!
Fun Facts About the Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean is the only ocean embracing its home continent, Antarctica, entirely. All the water surrounding Antarctica 60° south latitude is now considered the Southern Ocean— excluding the Drake Passage and the Scotia Sea. ¹
It’s the only ocean touching three other oceans— the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. Unlike the other four oceans, which are defined by the continents that separated them, the Southern Ocean is defined by a unique current: the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC)
The ACC moves more water than any other ocean current or river in the world. This plays a huge role in the planet’s climate, as it grabs water from the other oceans it touches, creating the conveyor belt (a global circulation system). This conveyor belt moves heat around the entire planet. It also helps cold, dense water move to the bottom of the ocean, keeping CO2 trapped down there. ²
The ACC also helps keep Antarctica cold and protect its unique wildlife, which thrives in that type of environment. By recognizing the Southern Ocean as an official ocean, we’re hoping it draws enough attention to promote its conservation as climate change effects are already taking a toll on the mesmerizing landscapes of Antarctica.
Plastic Pollution in the Southern Ocean
Although the Southern Ocean has been officially recognized as an ocean for a few months, plastic pollution reached it way before. As pristine and remote as this area might be, it’s not exempt from plastic pollution.
A study by Greenpeace showed both microplastics and harmful chemicals present in both the Antarctic waters and ice. The same study said that larger pieces of plastic have been polluting the Southern Ocean for at least a decade. On their trek to the Antarctic, they also found discarded fishing nets, buoys, and nets floating between majestic icebergs. A saddening sight for our only remaining wilderness.
But that’s not it.
Other studies have found microplastics on every single layer of the Southern Ocean— including the seafloor. This endangers all species living in Antarctica and has the potential to affect the entire food chain. Krill, which feeds whales, birds, and other wildlife, feeds on microplastics by accident. This makes them poisonous to the animals that feed on krill. And this toxic chain continues as other animals eat those animals.
How Can You Help Conserve the Southern Ocean?
Maybe you can’t go to the Southern Ocean physically to help clean it up, but you can play a role from your own home! These are a few things you can do to support the health of your oceans from home:
1. Reduce your plastic consumption. Buy in bulk, carry your reusables everywhere, shop at local farmer’s markets and grocery stores.
2. Vote for candidates who support ocean conservation and climate initiatives.
3. Apply the 5 R’s— reduce, refuse, recycle, reuse, repurpose.
4. Compost your food scraps.
5. Donate and support organizations helping clean + protect our oceans— like Lonely Whale.
6. Talk to your family and friends about the issues our oceans are facing.
These are small actions that have a huge impact— make them a habit!
Helping Protect the Ocean One Cup at a Time
Have you met our Ocean Cups? In an effort to raise awareness about the issues affecting our oceans we created reusable silicone cups inspired by each ocean. No cup is the same. Each one resembles the color of the ocean it represents and has unique water-like patterns.
Plus, a percentage of all sales from our reusable line of Ocean Cups goes directly to Lonely Whale— an organization helping protect our oceans.
Get your Ocean Cup here and help us save our oceans!
Are there any topics you would like us to include in our blog? Let us know in the comments!