By: Caitlin Smith
We're so excited about winter camp that we couldn't wait to share a few fun facts about Antarctica with you! Antarctica has some of the harshest weather on the planet; it is the coldest, driest and windiest continent and it only rains about 8 inches a year. Even though this place is considered a desert and it is seemingly barren, it is home to a diverse array of creatures.
The Sea Creatures
You may wonder why animals inhabit such a place, but a few well-adapted animals such as penguins, seals, squid, birds and whales all thrive on or under the Antarctic ice. Probably the most abundant (and important) creature swimming in the icy seas is no bigger than a paperclip. Antarctic krill are tiny crustaceans that gather in large schools off the coastal regions during the summer months and it is estimated that all of the krill make up about 500 million tons of biomass in the Southern Ocean – now that’s a lot of krill! Along with phytoplankton, krill are the base of the food chain in the Southern Ocean and animals from whales to penguins feast on the large swarms that travel through its waters.
Antarctica has never hosted an indigenous human population, but people from all over the world travel there to study its fascinating ecosystems. There are 42 permanent research stations, with many more that pop up during the warmer summer months. The largest station is the United States McMurdo Station, which was established in 1955 and can accommodate over 1,000 scientists and visitors. Learn more about life at McMurdo: http://www.timeforkids.com/news/life-mcmurdo/140131
There is lots of interesting science going on at these stations ranging from astrophysics to marine biology. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959, declared that Antarctica can only be used for peaceful purposes prohibiting mining, weapons testing, waste dumping, and military action. The entire continent is protected from development and has been set aside as a place for international collaboration and research. This treaty has played integral part in keeping Antarctica a pristine environment for research and exploration - which makes Antarctica every scientist’s dream to visit!