ARKive celebrates 100 years since reaching the South Pole
On December 14th 1911, humans set foot on the South Pole for the first time. Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his team reached their goal, just 5 weeks before a British party, led by Robert Falcon Scott. To celebrate this achievement, we thought we would explore the awe inspiring Antarctic, and the creatures found in this icy land.
Amundsen and his team would have had to travel across the worlds coldest continent, the Antarctic, which is larger then Europe in size. Its astounding vastness would have made journeying across this freezing landscape perilous.
The emperor penguin is a truly Antarctic species, breeding on the continent. They reproduce during the harsh winter, with temperatures dropping as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius! After sucessfully mating, the female lays a single egg which is then transferred to the male's feet to be kept warm. The females then leave until spring, leaving the males to incubate the eggs in the complete darkness of the Antarctic winter. In order to survive, the males huddle together for warmth, with up to 5,000 penguins forming one huddle in large colonies. These persistent penguins really are made for endurance!
As one of the most abundant organisms in the Antarctic waters, Antarctic krill plays a key role in the food chain as the main prey for a wide variety of predators. These crucial species are estimated to have a population with a total mass of between 100 and 500 million tonnes! However, in recent years their abundance has seriously declined due to over-fishing and increasing temperatures from climate change. A decline in such a keystone species could have severe knock on effects on some of its many predator species.