continent

Antarctica

129 species

Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, being nearly twice the size of Australia, and has an area of 14,200,000 km2, Most of Antarctica is covered by ice, with an average thickness of 1.9 km,

Invertebrate life of Antarctica includes species of microscopic mites such as Alaskozetes antarcticus, lice, nematodes, tardigrades, rotifers, krill and springtails. The few terrestrial vertebrates are limited to the sub-Antarctic islands. The flightless midge Belgica antarctica, the largest purely terrestrial animal in Antarctica, reaches 6 mm in size.

Antarctic krill, which congregate in large schools, is the keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, being an important food organism for whales, seals, leopard seals, fur seals, squid, icefish, and many bird species, such as penguins and albatrosses. Some species of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals.

There are approximately 40 bird species that breed on or close to Antarctica, including species of petrel, penguins, cormorants and gulls. The ocean around Antarctica is visited by various other bird species, including some that normally reside in the Arctic. The emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica; it and the Adélie penguin breed farther south than any other penguin.

The Antarctic fur seal was very heavily hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries for its pelt by seal hunters from the United States and the United Kingdom. Leopard seals are apex predators in the Antarctic ecosystem, and migrate across the Southern Ocean in search of food.

A Census of Marine Life by some 500 researchers during the International Polar Year, was released in 2010. The research found that more than 235 marine organisms live in both polar regions, having bridged the gap of 12,000 km, Large animals such as some cetaceans and birds make the round trip annually. Smaller forms of life such as sea cucumbers and free-swimming snails also found in both polar oceans. Factors that may aid in their distribution include temperature differences between the deep ocean at the poles and the equator of no more than 5 °C and the major current systems or marine conveyor belt which are able to transport eggs and larva.

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Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, being nearly twice the size of Australia, and has an area of 14,200,000 km2, Most of Antarctica is covered by ice, with an average thickness of 1.9 km,

Invertebrate life of Antarctica includes species of microscopic mites such as Alaskozetes antarcticus, lice, nematodes, tardigrades, rotifers, krill and springtails. The few terrestrial vertebrates are limited to the sub-Antarctic islands. The flightless midge Belgica antarctica, the largest purely terrestrial animal in Antarctica, reaches 6 mm in size.

Antarctic krill, which congregate in large schools, is the keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, being an important food organism for whales, seals, leopard seals, fur seals, squid, icefish, and many bird species, such as penguins and albatrosses. Some species of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals.

There are approximately 40 bird species that breed on or close to Antarctica, including species of petrel, penguins, cormorants and gulls. The ocean around Antarctica is visited by various other bird species, including some that normally reside in the Arctic. The emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica; it and the Adélie penguin breed farther south than any other penguin.

The Antarctic fur seal was very heavily hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries for its pelt by seal hunters from the United States and the United Kingdom. Leopard seals are apex predators in the Antarctic ecosystem, and migrate across the Southern Ocean in search of food.

A Census of Marine Life by some 500 researchers during the International Polar Year, was released in 2010. The research found that more than 235 marine organisms live in both polar regions, having bridged the gap of 12,000 km, Large animals such as some cetaceans and birds make the round trip annually. Smaller forms of life such as sea cucumbers and free-swimming snails also found in both polar oceans. Factors that may aid in their distribution include temperature differences between the deep ocean at the poles and the equator of no more than 5 °C and the major current systems or marine conveyor belt which are able to transport eggs and larva.

show less