Sea is a deep bay of the
Southern Ocean in Antarctica,
Victoria Land and
Marie Byrd Land
Marie Byrd Land and within the Ross
Embayment. It derives its name from the British explorer James Ross
who visited this area in 1841. To the west of the sea lies Ross Island
and Victoria Land, to the east Roosevelt Island and Edward VII
Peninsula in Marie Byrd Land, while the southernmost part is covered
by the Ross Ice Shelf, and is about 200 miles (320 km) from the
South Pole. Its boundaries and area have been defined by the New
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research as having
an area of 637,000 square kilometres (246,000 sq mi).
The underlying rocks are of upper
Precambrian to lower
and are partly composed of calcium carbonate. The
circulation of the Ross
Sea is dominated by a wind-driven ocean gyre
and the flow is strongly influenced by three submarine ridges that run
from southwest to northeast. The circumpolar deep
water current is a relatively warm, salty and nutrient-rich water mass
that flows onto the continental shelf at certain locations. The Ross
Sea is covered with ice for most of the year.
The nutrient-laden water supports an abundance of plankton and this
encourages a rich marine fauna. At least ten mammal species, six bird
species and 95 fish species are found here, as well as many
invertebrates, and the sea remains relatively unaffected by human
activities. New Zealand has claimed that the sea comes under their
jurisdiction as part of the Ross Dependency. Marine biologists
consider the sea to have a high level of biological diversity and it
is the site of much scientific research. It is also the focus of some
environmentalist groups who have campaigned to have the area
proclaimed as a world marine reserve.
2.1 The continental shelf
2.2 The Ross System
4 Ecological importance and conservation
4.2 Toothfish Fishery
4.3 Marine Protected Area
5 See also
7 External links
Sea was discovered by James Ross in 1841. In the west of the
Ross Island with the Mt. Erebus volcano, in the east
Roosevelt Island. The southern part is covered by the Ross Ice
Roald Amundsen started his
South Pole expedition in 1911
from the Bay of Whales, which was located at the shelf. In the west of
the Ross sea,
McMurdo Sound is a port which is usually free of ice
during the summer. The southernmost part of the Ross
Sea is Gould
Coast, which is approximately two hundred miles from the geographic
The continental shelf
Sea (and Ross Ice Shelf) overlies a deep continental shelf.
Although the average depth of the world’s continental shelves (at
the shelf break joining the continental slope) is about 130
meters, the Ross shelf average depth is about 500 meters. It
is shallower in the western Ross
Sea (east longitudes) than the east
(west longitudes). This overdeepened condition is due to cycles of
erosion and deposition of sediments from expanding and contracting ice
sheets overriding the shelf since Oligocene time, and is also found
on other locations around Antarctica. Erosion was more focused on
the inner parts of the shelf while deposition of sediment dominated
the outer shelf, making the inner shelf deeper than the outer.
The Ross System
Ross System rocks are of upper
Precambrian to lower
Paleozoic age and
each group of Ross System have an echelon vein pattern demonstrating
possible dextral faulting. These miogeosyncline metasedimentary rocks
are usually folded about northwest and southeast axes and are partly
composed of calcium carbonate, often including limestone. Groups
within the Ross System include the Robertson Bay Group, Priestley
Group, Skelton Group, Beardmore Group, Byrd Group, Queen Maud Group,
and Koettlitz Group. The Robertson Bay Group ranges from 56 to 76%
silica and compares closely with other Ross System members. The
Priestley Group rocks are similar to those of the Robertson Bay Group
and include dark slates, argillites, siltstones, fine sandstones and
limestones. They can be found near the Priestley and Campbell
glaciers. For thirty miles along the lower
Skelton Glacier are the
calcareous greywackes and argillites of the Skelton Group. The region
between the lower
Beardmore Glacier and the lower Shackelton Glacier
sits the Beardmore Group. North of the
Nimrod Glacier are four block
faulted ranges that make up the Byrd Group. The contents of the Queen
Maud Group area are mainly post-tectonic granite.
Bloom in the Ross Sea, January 2011
Sea circulation, dominated by polynya processes, is in
general very slow-moving.
Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is a relatively
warm, salty and nutrient-rich water mass that flows onto the
continental shelf at certain locations in the Ross Sea. Through heat
flux, this water mass moderates the ice cover. The near-surface water
also provides a warm environment for some animals and nutrients to
excite primary production. CDW transport onto the shelf is known to be
persistent and periodic, and is thought to occur at specific locations
influenced by bottom topography. The circulation of the Ross
dominated by a wind-driven gyre. The flow is strongly influenced by
three submarine ridges that run from southwest to northeast. Flow over
the shelf below the surface layer consists of two anticyclonic gyres
connected by a central cyclonic flow. The flow is considerable in
spring and winter, due to influencing tides. The Ross
Sea is covered
with ice for much of the year and ice concentrations and in the
south-central region little melting occurs. Ice concentrations in the
Sea are influenced by winds with ice remaining in the western
region throughout the austral spring and generally melting in January
due to local heating. This leads to extremely strong stratification
and shallow mixed layers in the western Ross Sea.
Ecological importance and conservation
Sea is one of the last stretches of seas on
remains relatively unaffected by human activities. Because of
this, it remains almost totally free from pollution and the
introduction of invasive species. Consequently, the Ross
become a focus of numerous environmentalist groups who have campaigned
to make the area a world marine reserve, citing the rare opportunity
to protect the Ross
Sea from a growing number of threats and
destruction. The Ross
Sea is regarded by marine biologists as having a
very high biological diversity and as such has a long history of human
exploration and scientific research, with some datasets going back
over 150 years.
Sea is home to at least 10 mammal species, half a dozen
species of birds, 95 species of fish, and over 1,000 invertebrate
species. Some species of birds that nest in and near the Ross Sea
include the Adélie penguin, emperor penguin, Antarctic petrel, snow
petrel, and south polar skua. Marine mammals in the Ross
the Antarctic minke whale, killer whale, Weddell seal, crabeater seal,
and leopard seal. Antarctic toothfish, Antarctic silverfish, Antarctic
krill, and crystal krill also swim in the cold Antarctic water of the
The flora and fauna are considered similar to other southern Antarctic
marine regions. Particularly in Summer, the nutrient-rich sea water
supports an abundant planktonic life in turn providing food for larger
species, such as fish, seals, whales, and sea- and shore-birds.
Albatrosses rely on wind to travel and cannot get airborne in a calm.
The westerlies do not extend as far south as the ice edge and
therefore albatrosses do not travel often to the ice-pack. An
albatross would be trapped on an ice floe for many days if it landed
in the calm.
The coastal parts of the sea contain a number of rookeries of Adélie
and Emperor penguins, which have been observed at a number of places
around the Ross Sea, both towards the coast and outwards in open
A 10-metre (32.8 feet) long colossal squid weighing 495 kilograms
(1,091 lb) was captured in the Ross
Sea on February 22,
In 2010, the Ross
Antarctic toothfish fishery was independently
certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, and has been rated as
a 'Good Alternative' by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
program. However, a 2008 document submitted to the
CCAMLR reported significant declines in toothfish populations of
McMurdo Sound coinciding with the development of the industrial
toothfishing industry since 1996, and other reports have noted a
coincident decrease in the number of orcas. The report recommended a
full moratorium on fishing over the Ross shelf. In October 2012,
Philippa Ross, James Ross' great, great, great granddaughter, voiced
her opposition to fishing in the area.
In the southern winter of 2017 New Zealand scientists discovered the
breeding ground of the
Antarctic toothfish in the northern Ross Sea
seamounts for the first time underscoring how little is known
about the species.
Marine Protected Area
Beginning in 2005, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic
Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) commissioned scientific analysis and
planning for Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Antarctic. In 2010,
the CCAMLR endorsed their Scientific Committee’s proposal to develop
Antarctic MPAs for conservation purposes. The US State Department
submitted a proposal for a Ross
Sea MPA at the September 2012 meeting
of the CCAMLR. At this stage, a sustained campaign by various
international and national NGOs commenced to accelerate the
In July 2013, the CCAMLR held a meeting in
Bremerhaven in Germany, to
decide whether to turn the Ross
Sea into an MPA. The deal failed due
to Russia voting against it, citing uncertainty about whether the
commission had the authority to establish a marine protected area.
In October 2014, the MPA proposal was again defeated at the CCAMLR by
votes against from China and Russia. At the October 2015 meeting a
revised MPA proposal from the US and New Zealand was expanded with the
assistance of China, who however shifted the MPA's priorities from
conservation by allowing commercial fishing. The proposal was again
blocked by Russia.
On 28 October 2016, at its annual meeting in Hobart, a Ross
park was finally declared by the CCAMLR, under an agreement signed by
24 countries and the European Union. It protected over 1.5 million
square kilometres of sea, and was the world's largest protected area
at the time. However, a sunset provision of 35 years was inserted as
part of negotiations, which means it does not meet the International
Union for Conservation of Nature definition of a marine protected
area, which requires it to be permanent.
Ross Ice Shelf
^ "About the Ross Sea". NIWA. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
^ a b "Ross
Sea (sea, Pacific Ocean) - Britannica Online
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Earth (6 ed.).
New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 28.
^ Shepard, F.P. (1963). Submarine Geology (2 ed.). New York: Harper
& Row. p. 264.
^ a b Hayes, D.E.; Davey, F.J. A Geophysical Study of the Ross Sea,
Antarctica (PDF). doi:10.2973/dsdp.proc.28.134.1975.
^ a b Bartek, L. R.; Vail, P. R.; Anderson, J. B.; Emmet, P. A.; Wu,
S. (1991-04-10). "Effect of Cenozoic ice sheet fluctuations in
Antarctica on the stratigraphic signature of the Neogene". Journal of
Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 96 (B4): 6753–6778.
doi:10.1029/90jb02528. ISSN 2156-2202.
^ Barker, P.F., Barrett, P.J., Camerlenghi, A., Cooper, A.K., Davey,
F.J., Domack, E.W., Escutia, C., Kristoffersen, Y. and O'Brien, P.E.
(1998). "Ice sheet history from Antarctic continental margin
sediments: the ANTOSTRAT approach". Terra Antarctica. 5 (4):
737–760. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ Ten Brink, Uri S.; Schneider, Christopher; Johnson, Aaron H. (1995).
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insights from models". In Cooper, Alan K.; Barker, Peter F.;
Brancolini, Giuliano. Geology and Seismic Stratigraphy of the
Antarctic Margin. American Geophysical Union. pp. 1–24.
doi:10.1029/ar068p0001. ISBN 9781118669013.
^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24
December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
^ Ballard, Grant; Jongsomjit, Dennis; Veloz, Samuel D.; Ainley, David
G. (1 November 2012). "Coexistence of mesopredators in an intact polar
ocean ecosystem: The basis for defining a Ross
Sea marine protected
area". Biological Conservation. 156: 72–82.
^ (dead link) Archived 25 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Antarctic and
Southern Ocean Coalition. "The Ross Sea" (PDF). The
Sea - Antarctic and
Southern Ocean Coalition. ASOC. Retrieved 26
^ "World's largest squid landed in NZ - Beehive (Govt of NZ)".
2007-02-22. Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved
^ "NZ fishermen land colossal squid - BBC News". 2007-02-22. Retrieved
^ "Colossal squid's headache for science - BBC News". 2007-03-15.
^ "Size matters on 'squid row' (+photos, video) - The New Zealand
Herald". 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
^ "Colossal squid's big eye revealed - BBC News". 2008-04-30.
^ Marine Stewardship Council. "Ross
Sea toothfish longline — Marine
Stewardship Council". www.msc.org. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
^ DeVries, Arthur L.; Ainley, David G.; Ballard, Grant. "Decline of
Antarctic toothfish and its predators in
McMurdo Sound and the
southern Ross Sea, and recommendations for restoration" (PDF). CCAMLR.
Retrieved 26 April 2016.
^ "Ross descendant wants sea protected". 3 News NZ. 29 October
^ "Peeping in on the Mile Deep Club Hakai Magazine". Hakai Magazine.
^ Delegation of the United States. "A PROPOSAL FOR THE ROSS SEA REGION
MARINE PROTECTED AREA" (PDF). Proposed
Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Area in
Antarctica's Ross Sea. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 26 April
^ "Antarctic Oceans Alliance". www.antarcticocean.org. Retrieved
^ NewScientist, No. 2926, 20 July, "Fight to preserve last pristine
^ Mathiesen, Karl (31 October 2014). "Russia accused of blocking
creation of vast Antarctic marine reserves". The Guardian. Retrieved
26 April 2016.
^ The Pew Charitable Trusts. "Pew: Nations Miss Historic Opportunity
to Protect Antarctic Waters". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 26 April
^ Slezak, Michael (26 October 2016). "World's largest marine park
created in Ross
Antarctica in landmark deal". The Guardian.
Retrieved 28 October 2016.
Media related to Ross
Sea at Wikimedia Commons
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources,
New Zealand and United States Delegation, 2015. A proposal for the
establishment of a Ross
Sea Region Marine Protected Area
J.Glausiusz, 2007, Raw Data: Beacon
Bird of Climate Change. Discover
Gunn, B., nd, Geology The Ross
Sea Dependency including Victoria-Land
Ross Sea, Antarctica, Including the Ross
Sea Dependency, the
Sub-Antarctic Islands and sea, up to New Zealand from the Pole.
K.Hansen, 2007, Paleoclimate: Penguin poop adds to climate picture.
International Polar Foundation, 2007, Interview with Dr. Steven
Emslie: The Adélie Penguins' Diet Shift. SciencePoles website.
C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Ross Sea. Eds. P.Saundry & C.J.Cleveland.
Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the
Environment. Washington DC
Locarnini, R.A., 1995, the Ross Sea. Quarterdeck, vol. 1, no.
3.(Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College
"Nth Korean boats caught fishing in conservation area". Radio New
Zealand. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
http://www.antarcticocean.org/. International campaign to establish
Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean.
The Last Ocean, documentary film on the Ross
Sea and the international
debate over its fate.
Antarctic Treaty System
List of rivers
Richard E. Byrd
James Clark Ross
Robert Falcon Scott
Earth's oceans and seas
East Siberian Sea
Gulf of Boothia
Prince Gustav Adolf Sea
Queen Victoria Sea
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Bay of Bothnia
Bay of Campeche
Bay of Fundy
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Gulf of Finland
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Seto Inland Sea
South China Sea
King Haakon VII Sea
Coordinates: 75°S 175°W / 75°S 175