5 Penguins, Whales, and Other Critters That Live in the World’s Newest and Largest Marine Protected Area
The world’s latest and largest marine protected area came into being on Friday when 24 nations and the European Union voted unanimously to devote nearly a third of the 1.9 million–square–mile Ross Sea to conservation.
It’s the second Antarctic marine protected area created by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which manages the waters around the southern continent. Years in the making, the creation of this 598,000-square-mile zone is meant to help conserve the region’s sea life, including vast schools of the tiny crustaceans called krill that are essential to the survival of whales, penguins, seals, and other Antarctic wildlife.
The Ross Sea’s remoteness (it’s nicknamed the “Last Ocean”) has kept it off the charts for most fishing fleets. But conservationists and scientists have worried about its protection as the craze for omega-3 fish oil food supplements turned krill into a hot global commodity. Reports began to emerge in the mid-2000s that Antarctic toothfish, which graces restaurant menus under the more consumer-friendly moniker “Chilean sea bass,” had been overfished in parts of the Ross Sea.
The Ross Sea is home to thousands of unique species. Here are some of the wildlife that will benefit from the new protections.