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Ross Sea Ecosystem



The Ross Sea ecosystem is the last intact marine ecosystem left on Earth. Unlike many other areas of the world's oceans, the Ross Sea's top predators are still abundant. Here they drive the system, shaping the food web below in a way that's totally unique[1].


While comprising just two percent of the Southern Ocean, the Ross Sea is the most productive stretch of Antarctic waters[2]. It has the richest diversity of Southern Ocean fishes, an incredible array of benthic invertebrates and massive populations of mammals and seabirds.


More than a third of all Adélie penguins make their home here, as well as almost a third of the world's Antarctic petrels and Emperor penguins. Also found here are Antarctic Minke whales, Weddell and Leopard seals, and Orcas, including a population specially adapted to feed on Antarctic toothfish, the top fish predator of the Ross Sea[3].


The Ross Sea's rich biodiversity and productivity puts it on a par with many World Heritage sites, like the Galapagos Islands, African Rift lakes and Russia's Lake Baikal[4].








[1] Ballard et al (2010) Ross Sea Bioregionalization Part II. CCAMLR WG_EMM 10/12

[2] Arrigo et al (1998) Primary production in Southern Ocean waters. J Geophys Res 103: 15,587-15,600.

[3] Ainley et al (2010) Ross Sea Bioregionalization, Part I. CCAMLR WG_EMM-10/11.

[4] ASOC (2010) The case for inclusion of the Ross Sea continental shelf and slope in a Southern Ocean network of marine reserves. Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.

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The Ross Sea is the most productive stretch of water in the Southern Ocean.



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