The Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica and is generally defined as extending north to the 60th parallel, is the fourth largest ocean, unique in that it touches no other landmass except Antarctica.   In the icy blue waters of the Southern Ocean, there is a dazzling array of life.  Penguins, whales, toothfish, and krill thrive there, and upwelling currents from the ocean’s depths supply nutrients that support three-fourths of world’s marine life.  A half-century ago, countries agreed to declare Antarctica a place of peace and science.  A similar agreement would help protect the seas surrounding Antarctica.

By the numbers

  • 1 millionpairs of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea area of the Southern Ocean

  • 16,000 estimated number of species living in
    Southern Ocean

  • 66% share of penguin species considered threatened

Our Work

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  • Photos: 4 Most Dangerous Threats to Penguins

    We celebrate World Penguin Day just once each year, on April 25, but these birds need help year-round. Despite their global popularity, many penguins are in trouble. Who’s to blame? Well, humans mostly. Read More

  • The Great Krill Debate

    Antarctic krill, the tiny, shrimplike crustaceans that form the base of the Southern Ocean food web, are in high demand—and not just from the species that depend on them for food. While predators like penguins and whales rely on krill as essential protein, a booming fishing industry has become increasingly concentrated around the Antarctic Peninsula—the fastest-warming place on the... Read More

  • Pew: Nations Miss Historic Opportunity to Protect Antarctic Waters

    For the fifth consecutive meeting, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)—which consists of 24 member countries and the European Union—was unable to reach a consensus to create protected areas in the Ross Sea and the waters off East Antarctica. However, China did endorse a proposal for a Ross Sea marine reserve that would be 20 percent larger... Read More