The world’s largest marine protected area (MPA) is situated in the region of the Antarctica's Ross Sea. It is about 1.5 times the size of the largest national park on land and covers 1.55 million square kilometres, of which 1.12 million square kilometres is fully protected. It was designated by the support for a joint New Zealand/United States proposal within the 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
10 Ecological facts about the World's largest marine protected area
1. It is established on 1.55 million km sq. area of the Ross Sea with special protection from human activities.
2. Region is directly responsible for the creation of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW).
3. It is home to 38% of the world's Adelie penguins, 30% of the world's Antarctic petrels and around 6% of the world's population of Antarctic minke whales.
4. It is also home to huge numbers of krill, a staple food for species including whales and seals. Their oil is critical for salmon farming.
5. It contains rare and vulnerable benthic species such as unique sponges that live for up to 500 years, breeding grounds and habitats for Antarctic toothfish, and other areas of importance for ecosystem integrity.
6. There are at least six bird species known to exist in the Ross Sea region.
7. The region is one of the few remaining seas on earth that have not been heavily affected by human activity. This means that the region is relatively free of pollution and invasive species - issues that commonly occur as a result of human interest in a region.
8. The coastal parts of the Ross Sea have a number of rookeries of Adelie and Emperor penguins.
9. The ice cover in the Ross Sea is moderated by the gentle circulation of water, which is usually warm and salty.
10. The region has great importance to the scientists since the scientists can access data dating back to 170 years ago and records dating back to 50 years back, which makes it the longest history of scientific research in the Southern Ocean.