13 stunning photos of animals now protected by the world's largest marine reserve.

Lewis Pugh is the patron of the oceans, and he's super pumped.

First of all, can I comment on how cool that job title is? He got it from the United Nations. It sounds like it should be from Greek mythology.

He's pumped because we just turned Antarctica's Ross Sea into the world's largest marine sanctuary.

24 countries plus the European Union came together on Friday to declare a new marine reserve twice the size of Texas off the coast of Antarctica.


This designation, which will come into effect in December, will turn 70% of the area into a no-fishing zone.

16,000 species of life are estimated to live in or visit the Ross Sea, turning it into a polar Garden of Eden.

That's what the United Nations Environment Programme called it, anyway. And Pugh is pretty happy about that.

"The Ross Sea is one of the most magnificent places on Earth," he said. "It is one of our last great wilderness areas. This is a dream come true."

This new designation will protect a huge range of creatures. Creatures like:

1. Entire colonies of emperor penguins.

Photo via iStock.

2. Humpback whales!

Photo via iStock.

3. This lovely pelagic snow petrel.

Photo via iStock.

4. And their less-snowy but still pretty cousin, the Antarctic petrel.

Photo via iStock.

5. This kind of adorable krill! Run, krill! Don't you know there are whales around here?!

Photo via iStock.

6. We're not done with the penguins, by the way. These chinstrap penguins are now protected!

Photo by Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images.

They're more common elsewhere, but there's at least one breeding colony in the Ross Sea.

7. From birds that never fly to birds that almost never land – the albatross!

Photo via iStock.

8. Oh wait, you thought we were done with whales? Nope! Here's a sperm whale.

Photo via iStock.

9. And an orca whale! Whales! Whales for everybody!

Photo via iStock.

10. I know, little crabeater seal, it's a whale extravaganza.

Photo via iStock.

11. How 'bout some birds? Like these skuas, which are like seagulls crossed with bikers.

Photo via iStock.

12. Or this leopard seal, which is like a regular seal crossed with, well, a leopard.

Photo via iStock.

Listen, sometimes animal names are pretty apt, OK?

13. Or how about this bizarre icefish, which is like a cod crossed with a bucket of antifreeze.

Icefish have natural antifreeze chemicals in their blood.

This is a big step in protecting our natural places.

Watching the news, it's easy to get depressed when we hear that we've crossed climate change benchmarks or that a significant portion of wildlife is in danger of disappearing. And these are things we should be concerned about.

But there are still a lot of things that we as a planet can do too. And I know of at least 13 species that might be breathing a little easier today.

Most Shared