But, the survey could not put the blame on humans and global warming.
"Are humans responsible? We can't say for sure, but we are one step closer to answering this important question," said survey author David Vaughan from the British Antarctic Survey.
Eighty-seven percent of the 244 marine glaciers have retreated over the last 50 years, the study says.
The widespread glacier retreat began at the northern, warmer tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As atmospheric temperatures rose along the peninsula the trend of retreat moved south toward colder mainland Antarctica.
The research highlights the possibility that inland glaciers are accelerating their descent to the ocean and that the rate of sea level rise could be affected if ice shelves on the peninsula continue their retreat.
The survey appears in Friday's issue of the journal Science.