The East Antarctic Ice Sheet flows off the Antarctic continent into the Southern Ocean that surrounds it. It is an expanse of ice abruptly surrendering to sapphire seas. Coastal currents, among them the Prydz Bay Gyre, mingle with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, supporting marine life throughout the circumference of the continent. Penguins, seals, krill, and toothfish rely on this vast expanse of frigid habitat. Glacial streams have over millennia carved deep canyons into the continental shelf and slope along the East Antarctic coastal region. The Gunnerus Ridge rises from the depths of the ocean bed, to a seamount—a mountain that sits beneath the surface rich in biodiversity—off its northern end. The seals and seabirds off the shores of East Antarctica feed mostly on krill and silverfish—both of which are vital to a healthy ecosystem. Prydz Bay alone is home to at least one million breeding pairs of snow petrels, as well as Antarctic terns and a variety of albatross species. East Antarctica also supports many colonies of Adélie and emperor penguins. Large populations of minke, humpback, blue, and fin whales also inhabit the waters of the East Antarctic. The area is home to crabeater, Weddell, Ross, and leopard seals. The region also harbors up to 42% of the world’s little-known Ross seals, designated a Specially Protected Species under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.
Marine Conservation Institute and the Waitt Foundation provide this
interactive tool to help users visualize the locations and coverage of global
marine protected areas (MPA). This atlas provides information on over 8000 MPAs
globally, drawing on datasets from the
World Database on Protected Areas1,
US MPA Center2,
and other country- and regional-level data authorities, as well as research
conducted by the Marine Conservation Institute.
In addition to MPA boundaries and site management information, this dataset
contains information on conservation measures with a particular focus on those
restricting the exploitation of marine life.
Features on this site are designed to allow users to understand (1) where current
protection exists and at what level, and (2), where important areas for future protection
are and any processes underway to establish MPAs. This provides vital information to
countries and their citizens interested in ocean conservation, management and stewardship.
The dataset is constantly being updated and we welcome visitors to the site to provide
feedback and update content by creating a member account on MPAtlas today.