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Polar Regions - Antarctica

Life Science - Middle School

 
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Polar Regions: Antarctica Antarctica is the continent found on the most southern part of the earth. It includes the South Pole and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It is the coldest place on earth with temperatures dipping down below –130° Fahrenheit (–90°C), and the wind along the coast blows fiercely. It is also considered the driest place on earth even though most of it is covered by a sheet of ice a mile and a half thick. There is very little snowfall in Antarctica and most of that is on the coastline, where it can fall very heavily, very quickly. The interior of the continent is really a frozen desert. This is a strange fact considering scientists believe the Antarctic ice sheets hold about 90% of the earth’s fresh water. There are even lakes that have been discovered deep under the ice. It has a mountain range, called the Transantarctic Mountains, that divide the continent into Eastern and Western Antarctica. The tallest mountain in Antarctica is over 16,000 feet tall. There are even a few active volcanoes. Though many people visit Antarctica as tourists and researchers, no humans are native to the continent. Despite its harsh conditions, many animals live and breed in Antarctica. Birds, like the sooty albatross (1), giant petrel (2), kelp gull (3), Antarctic cormorants (4) and, of course, the many species of penguins, all fish in the Antarctic Ocean. The adelie (5), gentoo (6), chinstrap (7), rockhopper (8), macaroni (9), king (10) and emperor penguins (11) breed on the Antarctic continent and the subantarctic islands. At four feet tall and up to 100 pounds, the emperor is the largest penguin. Their breeding season, during the Antarctic winter, is full of dangers. During the bitter cold the males don’t eat for nine weeks while they protect their egg (and the females are off feeding). The males lose 1/3 of their weight as they huddle together to stay warm. After the females come back, they must travel up to 60 miles across the ice pack to open water to find food. Penguins eat fish, squid and krill and can dive deeply in the frigid Antarctic ocean. As they fish, they are hunted themselves by killer whales (12) and the leopard seal (13). Even at 1,000 pounds and 10 feet long, the leopard seal is a fast, agile swimmer and a fierce hunter. Antarctica is also home to weddell (14), crabeater (15) and elephant seals (16), who feast on the rich supply of fish, squid and krill (17). Blue and fin whales (18) also migrate to Antarctica in the warmer months to feed on the tiny krill. As the Earth warms and the ice pack in Antarctica shrinks, some penguin populations may disappear, while others may fill their niche. 13 16 18 17 6 15 14 12 2 8 7 1 5 4 3 9 10 11 Sheri Amsel
94-4015 Sheri Amsel Birds, like the sooty ___________________________ (1), giant ___________________________ (2), kelp ___________________________ (3), Antarctic cormorants (4) and, of course, the many species of penguins, all fish in the Antarctic Ocean. The ___________________________ (5), ___________________________ (6), ___________________________ (7), rockhopper (8), macaroni (9), ___________________________ (10) and ___________________________ penguins (11) breed on the Antarctic continent and the subantarctic islands. At four feet tall and up to 100 pounds, the emperor is the largest penguin. Their breeding season, during the Antarctic winter, is full of dangers. During for the bitter cold the males don’t eat for nine weeks while they protect their egg (and the females are off feeding). The males lose 1/3 of their weight as they huddle together to stay warm. After the females come back, they must travel up to 60 miles across the ice pack to open water to find food. Penguins eat fish, squid and krill and can dive deeply in the frigid Antarctic ocean. As they fish, they are hunted themselves by ___________________________ whales (12) and the leopard ___________________________ (13). Even at 1,000 pounds and 10 feet long, the leopard seal is a fast, agile swimmer and a fierce hunter. Antarctica is also home to weddell (14), crabeater (15) and ___________________________ seals (16), who feast on the rich supply of fish, squid and ___________________________ (17). Blue and fin ___________________________ (18) also migrate to Antarctica in the warmer months to feed on the tiny krill. 13 16 18 17 6 15 14 12 2 8 7 1 5 4 3 9 10 11 Polar Regions: Antarctica
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