Anyone who thought the world had four oceans will now have to think again, after the National Geographic Society announced it would recognize a new Southern Ocean in Antarctica, bringing the global total to five.
The National Geographic, a non-profit scientific and educational organization whose mapping standards are referenced by many atlases and cartographers, said the Southern Ocean consists of the waters surrounding Antarctica, out to 60-degrees south latitude.
National Geographic Society geographer Alex Tait said scientists have long known that the waters surrounding Antarctica form a “distinct ecological region defined, by ocean currents and temperatures”.
Tait told the Washington Post that the span of water is yet to be officially recognized as an ocean by the relevant international body: “But we thought it was important at this point to officially recognize it.”
“People look to us for geographic fact: How many continents, how many countries, how many oceans? Up until now, we’ve said four oceans,” Tait said, referring to the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific.