Antarctic Ocean – Comprising the southernmost waters of the World Ocean is the Antarctic Ocean, also known as Southern Ocean or Austral Ocean. It is the fourth largest of the 5 oceans. This is where cold, northward flowing waters from Antarctic mix with warmer sub antarctic waters.
This ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60° S. For some time, the only oceans recognized by geographic circles were Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific. However, the IHO (International Hydrographic Organization) settled this debate through a 2000 publication that affirmed, named and defined the Antarctic Ocean. Limits of Oceans and Seas (S-23), published the names and locations of seas and oceans. Its third edition in 2000 confirmed the existence of the Antarctic Ocean as the 5th world ocean.
This Ocean lies approximately 7.8 million square miles and about the double the size of USA. Its lowest point is 23,737 feet below sea level in the South Sandwich Trench.
Waters of this Ocean differs from the waters in other oceans making it a reason to consider it as a separate ocean. Its waters get carried around fairly rapidly due to Antarctic Circumpolar Current which circulates around Antarctica.
The Antarctic Ocean often experiences cyclone like storms and it results from the stark contrast in the middle of the ice packs and ocean waves. They are very harsh for any sailors or marine vessels that happen to be caught in their path.
Water surface temperatures vary from -2° to 10° C. In winter, the ocean freezes away to 65° S in Pacific and 55° S in the Atlantic sector. This lowers surface temperatures well below 0°C. Continual intense drainage at some coastal points however, keep the shoreline ice free throughout the year.
Marine animals present in Antarctic Ocean rely directly and indirectly on phytoplankton. Sea life like penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids, and fur seals can be found here. There are also few fish species existent. Most specie found are snailfish, cod ice fish, and eelpout. They account for almost 9/10 of the nearly 320 described fish specie in Antarctic Ocean. Birds can be found on the rocky shores of mainland Antarctica. It provides nesting space for over 100 million birds every spring. This includes albatrosses, petrels, skuas, gulls, and terns. Flightless penguins are located in Southern Hemisphere while 4 of the other penguin species live on the mainland and its close offshore islands.
Producing more or less 119,898 tons in 1998 alone, fisheries are the largest amount of exports in Antarctic Ocean. This industry relies on open entry to ports along the which, during the winters months are unfortunately limited because of ice build up.
Antarctic Ocean confronts distinct ecological hazards to its natural marine ecosystems. The first is the constant ultra violet radiation that courses into the ocean from the Antarctic ozone hole causing the productivity of phytoplankton to reduce. Illegal and unreported fishing moreover affects the sustainability of stocks. International agreements regarding the world’s oceans include the and is subject specific to this region. Some of which are; International Whaling Commission, Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, and Convention of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Antarctic Treaty protects the division of the globe 60°S thus, claims to Antarctica and all islands surrounding are suspended.