In Summer the sun remains shining 24 hours a day for four months in Antarctica, allowing algae and phytoplankton to bloom. As a result, huge numbers of fish and crustaceans feed on them, which then draw in greater predators. Just as the sun shines in summer, it disappears in winter for 6 months at a time which locks away the bounty contained in the polar waters.
Temperatures below -12.3°c Is considered Summer in this icy world despite the 24-hour sun. Antarctica’s land varies throughout the seasons. In winter with freezing temperatures of -49°c, the water forms into ice and in summer, of course, the ice melts. The ice is 1 and a half miles deep and It is researched that Antarctica contains 90% of the world’s water and if all that ice melted it would flood half the worlds population. The water level in the ocean would rise more than 150 feet.
Air-breathing animals have adapted to the life in the sea in the polar world. The birds most associated with polar waters are penguins. Their body is superbly adapted as they are teardrop shaped which enables them to cut through the water and their wings are used as paddles. Penguins have oily feathers which prevent water from entering them. They have thick skin and fat under their oily feathers to protect themselves even more from the cold. When temperatures drop to unbearable, they all gather up in large groups and hurdle themselves together for warmth enduring screaming gales with winds of 125mph and temperatures as low as -60°c. Each of the males take turns to go outside the hurdle to ensure that the group as a whole survives. When it comes to catching prey, King and Emperor penguins mainly hunt squid. Their long beaks are an adaption to help them grip the slippery prey.
Polar bears are other famous individuals for polar lands as well as penguins. These are fat full animals that can swim through the icy waters in incredible distances. On average Polar bears can swim more than 30 miles even though their body is 50% mass of fat. In a study, the longest a polar bear swam was almost 220 miles. They paddle with their front paws, which have webbing between the toes, and use their hind legs to steer.
Although there are adapted air-breathing animals here, there are some that face life-threatening problems. There is a problem for some fish in the Arctica as the sea water freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water because it contains salt. The issue is that this forms ice crystals in their blood. Many fish avoid the problem by leaving the area in winter when the water is the coldest, however, some fish are adapted to it which enables them to live and feed below the ice all year round.
While conditions vary above the ice, temperatures under the water never drop below -1.9°C. The Upwelling and continual horizontal movement of water prevent the oceans freezing solid, even if they are covered by a crust of ice.
Starving Polar bear hunting for food.