A White Desert, Full of Life

Where does it live?:

Adelie and Emperor penguins live atop the sea ice of the Weddell Sea. They slide into the water to hunt for fish or krill to eat, and then rocket out of the water and back onto the ice to sleep and socialize. Both Adelie and Emperor penguins move very awkwardly on the ice and snow. They can waddle on their very short legs, or slide on their jolly stomachs, pushing themselves forwards with their feet or rowing wings. The seals do a motion much like “the worm” dance, where they flop their bodies wildly and heave forward a few inches at a time. Minke whales keep to the water, largely moving between openings in the ice with long dives in between.

How does it use its environment to survive?:

This is where--for me--the real magic of these creatures comes in. Not just any animal could survive in this incredibly harsh environment, yet each of these animals is doing very well here. How? For starters, the larger colonies of Adelie penguins that I’ve seen have all been on or around a pressure ridge in the ice. When two ice floes combine, the edges rise into something like a wall, and this creates the perfect wind barrier for the short, squat Adelies. Remember I said that both Adelie and Emperor penguins are very awkward on the ice? As soon as they enter the water, they transform into the most powerful, graceful creatures imaginable. They are excellent and fast swimmers, both of which helps them avoid predators (Leopard seals) and catch all the food they could need to be fat, warm and happy. The Crabeater seals are the same way, moving freely and gracefully amongst the krill that they love to eat so much.