Southern Ocean

One day, as I was observing a second grade classroom, I spotted a map on the wall. Recently, the kids have been learning about the world map and geography during the social studies portion of their day.

Everything on the map was mostly as I remember it. All the continents were in the same places. Good thing, too. I can only assume a major shift in continental placement would have been on the news.

But then I noticed something odd. There was an extra ocean. When I learned geography as a kid, there were seven continents and four oceans. Now, it seems, there are five. Where did this “Southern Ocean” come from?

I realize this water has always been there. But, to me, it was always the southern portion of the Atlantic, Pacific, or Indian Oceans.

According to the good people at Wikipedia, this Southern Ocean has had a debated existence for decades. However, in 2000, it was officially determined what it would be called and where its borders would lie. The International Hydrographic Organization took a vote and the name Southern Ocean won out over Antarctic Ocean. Apparently the organization had previously had a difficult time determining the northern limits of the Southern Ocean due to differing seasons and inconsistent limits of the bordering oceans.

It should be noted that not all mapmakers agree that this ocean should be its own thing. The National Geographic Society still depicts the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans as extending all the way to Antarctica. Personally, I’m with them. But it’s good to know that the Southern Ocean exists in some minds, just in case I ever show up on Jeopardy!

So what other common knowledge facts are they going to strip away from my elementary education? It’s bad enough that they revoked Pluto of its planetary status. Now we have to put up with an extra ocean that no one really needed? I mean, were we really getting enough use out of the four oceans we already had? Just one more thing the planet needs to keep clean.Psych - Pluto

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