Three examples of marine life in the Antarctic: Seals and krill live in the Southern Ocean. Penguins live on the Antarctic continent and rely on the ocean for food.
Click on image for full size
Upper/middle photos courtesy of Uwe Kils and lower photo courtesy of Stan Shebs
Antarctic Marine Life
The chilly waters of the Southern Ocean are home to a diverse collection of marine life including eight whale species, six seal species, many fish species, and Antarctic krill, a small shrimp-like animal that is a key food for other species in the Southern Ocean.
There are 17 species of penguins in Antarctica. Penguins are part of the marine food web even though they live on land because they are completely dependant on the ocean for food. Other bird species depend on the Southern Ocean for food too such as the black-browed albatross and the Antarctic petrel.
The Southern Ocean food chain begins like most marine food chains, with primary producers called phytoplankton. Through photosynthesis, phytoplankton convert the Sun’s energy into food. Animals like Antarctic krill eat the phytoplankton and then larger animals such as penguins eat the krill. However, the Antarctic ozone hole has caused the amount of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean to drop by as much as 15% which could eventually have an impact on the whole food chain.
Last modified January 22, 2007 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
The Southern Ocean is a bit different. Many mapmakers do not even recognize it as an ocean. The Southern Ocean (sometimes known as the Antarctic Ocean or South Polar Ocean) surrounds Antarctica in the...more
Antarctica is unique. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. The land is barren and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. Antarctica is almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle...more
Photosynthesis is the name of the process by which autotrophs (self-feeders) convert water, carbon dioxide, and solar energy into sugars and oxygen. It is a complex chemical process by which plants and...more
All sorts of living things call Earth’s polar regions home – from tiny lichens encrusting the rocky landscapes of the Arctic tundra to huge blue whales swimming through the frigid waters of the Southern...more
What Will You Find There? South of the Antarctic Circle (at 66.5°S latitude) you will find the continent of Antarctica surrounded by the Southern Ocean, the geographic South Pole and the magnetic South...more
Penguins are not the only animals that use Cape Royds for a temporary home. These Weddel seals use the ice as a resting place far away from the open ocean and their main predator, Killer Whales. The sea...more
Compare this picture with the ones from Dec 2 and Jan 5! You can no longer distinguish nesting sites, or whose chick is whose. This sub colony has turned into a large mass of chicks huddled in crèches...more