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The winners of the Ocean Awards 2019

The winners of the Ocean Awards 2019

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Judges’ Special Award: Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program

Joint winner - For the Diego Ramirez-Drake Passage Marine Park

The far south of the American continent, south of Cape Horn, the remotest reaches of Chilean Patagonia, are home to several species of endangered bird. Among them are southern rockhopper and macaroni penguins; striated caracara, a kind of raptor; and grey-headed and black-browed albatrosses, both now critically endangered. They have suffered catastrophic declines in their population owing to the climate change-driven decline in stocks of the squid on which they feed and fishing gear in which they become caught.

The creation in January 2018 of the Diego Ramirez-Drake Passage Marine Park, however, should help ensure their survival. The 25th marine protected area in Chile, the seventh in Patagonia and the largest such park in South America, it extends over 144,390 square kilometres and a stretch of ocean with a rich biodiversity of its own. In terms of flora, it is the location of important forests of microalgae and kelp, as well as sea sponges and fossilised coral, but it also contains two significant undersea phenomena: the Sars seamount, which rises nearly 4,000 metres from the seabed almost to the surface of the water, making it among the largest underwater mountains in the South Pacific, and a submerged continental escarpment that drops dramatically into the Drake Passage, itself an important migration route for marine mammals such as humpback whales, dolphins and sea lions.

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