Antarctica’s Southern Ocean is one of the world’s last great wilderness areas, surrounding the coldest, driest, windiest, and least altered continent.
The ocean’s frigid waters bustle with thousands of species found nowhere else, from brilliantly hued starfish and bioluminescent worms to pastel octopuses. Nutrients that well up from the icy depths ride currents great distances to nourish wildlife in faraway seas.
Antarctica is also home to millions of penguins that feed on large swarms of krill, a tiny shrimplike crustacean, and other forage species in the region’s delicate food web.
But those predator-prey relationships are in jeopardy, scientists say, in large part because the Southern Ocean ecosystems are being modified by the impacts of climate change. Temperatures there are warming faster than nearly anywhere else on Earth.
To protect this spectacular region and the species that rely on it, Pew and its partners are working with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)—the body responsible for conserving biodiversity in the Southern Ocean—and its member governments to establish a network of large-scale marine protected areas (MPAs) around Antarctica.