Life Beneath Antarctic Ice

Frozen Landscape
Little Razorback Island stands against the windswept flank of Mt. Erebus, McMurdo Sound.

A Coast Guard icebreaker sails through a sea of ice floes on a late summer trip through McMurdo Sound.

Sleek Swimmers
A group of Emperor penguins darts in the water. Emperors can dive to 600m and stay underwater for 20 minutes.

Ghost of the Sea
A scyphomedusa, the largest plankton in the area, has tentacles over 9m in length and its bell can reach over 1m in diameter.

Fast Ice
An ice edge goes on for miles.

Sea ice splits to reveal long leads in summer, opening passages for marine life to travel through.

When Starfish Attack
The omnivorous Odontaster validus, or red star, feeds on another sea star species, the larger Acodontaster conspicuus.

Room with a View
A diver explores the surreal underwater landscape of boulders, ice and sea urchins in Granite Harbor.

Don't Touch
The helmet jelly is the most abundant scyphomedusa found in deep water.

Free Passage
Orcas sprint along a channel which has opened in the ice. They are headed deep into McMurdo Sound, where they hope to find food. They must hurry, however, for wind conditions can cause the channel to freeze again, cutting off the whales' access to air.

Mother and Child
A Weddell seal mother and pup swim near a breathing hole in the ice.

Life Abounds
An ice cave near a breathing hole is filled with creatures that feed on seal feces.

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