Antarctica Animals. By Trenton. Krill. http://www.antarcticconnection.com/antarctic/science/marinelife.shtml · Many hoped krill would provide a cheap, protein-rich food for the world's famine-plagued regions.
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Antarctica, the frozen continent surrounding the Earth's South Pole, and the frigid seas surrounding it, are home to many animals. In particular, the Antarctic seas are teeming with life, ranging from microscopic plankton to the biggest animal that ever lived on Earth, the Blue whale.
The South Pole is the coldest, windiest, and driest place on Earth. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at the South Pole; it went down to -128.6°F (-88.0°C)! The Antarctic land does not support many life forms. Most of the land of Antarctica is a frozen desert, with less precipitation than the Sahara Desert (under 2 inches = 5 cm a year). Oddly enough, 70% of the world's fresh water is frozen in the region of the South Pole.
All of the Antarctic animals have adapted to life in extremely cold conditions. Some, like the whales, seals, and birds, have an insulating layer of fat to protect them from the cold. Others, like many fish and insects, have special chemicals in their blood (natural antifreeze proteins) that keep them from freezing. Many animals (like penguins and seals) have a compact body form and thick skin to help retain body heat. Birds also have waterproof plumage (feathers) and downy insulating feathers.
Some animals leave Antarctica during its horrendous coldest months, from June until August. Animals like the Humpback whale migrate to warmer waters to reproduce after eating huge amounts of krill in Antarctic waters. Many other animals (like the Emperor penguin) remain at the South Pole year-round.
Whales and seals are the two groups of marine mammals to be found in the Southern Ocean where they are an important part of the marine ecosystem.
There are two natural groups of whales, toothed and baleen. The toothed whales include the large sperm whales ( Physeter macrocephalus ) together with various smaller dolphins and porpoises, which prey on fish and squid, and killer whales (Orcinus orca ) which prey on fish, penguins, seals and whales. The baleen whales, such as the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus ) and humpback ( Megaptera novaeangliae ), have fibrous plates of baleen instead of teeth, which they use to strain plankton from seawater.
There are also two natural groups of seals, true seals and fur seals ( Arctocephalus gazella ) which are related to sea-lions. Depending on species, seals feed on fish and squid and/or krill. The leopard seal ( Hydrurga leptonyx ) is also a predator of penguins and other seals. Thick layers of blubber beneath the skin of both whales and seals, act as a food reserve and insulation. Most seals also have a layer of fur, giving additional insulation on land.
Seals can leave the water and move on terrain to breed, rest and molt. Of the six Antarctic species, four are ice habitat specialists, breeding on the sea ice in spring. Leopard ( Hydrurga leptonyx ) and Ross seals ( Ommatophoca rossii ) tend to be solitary, whereas Weddell ( Leptonychotes weddellii ) and Crabeater seals ( Lobodon carcinophagus ) form loose breeding aggregations.
Antarctic fur seals ( Arctocephalus gazella ) and elephant seals ( Mirounga leonina ) are both found north of the pack-ice zone and breed in dense colonies on beaches. Here, dominant males (bulls) maintain harems of females (cows) in set territories. In constantly defending these, bulls will not forage at sea, relying instead on blubber reserves laid down in the previous winter. All seals breed annually and the timing of pup production and associated behavior is linked to habitat and ecology. Mating occurs after the pup rearing period, though a fertilized egg will not implant in the uterus until later in the year.
The Southern Ocean and the seas around it does have a variety of marine life, both small and large. It includes the phytoplankton and krill which are so tiny and also includes the whales which is the largest animal on earth.
Antarctica is the coldest continent on planet Earth, covered with snow and ice all year round. Yet, various plants and animals are hardy enough to survive on this hostile terrain.
Whales are the largest animals in world, specially blue whale with his length up to 30m and a weight up to 180 tons. But there are many species of baleen whales found in Antarctic waters like the fin, humpback, sea, mince, and the right whale. There are also six species of toothed whales: Sperm, Killer, bottlenose, four tooth whale and Dolphins