Antarctica Fun Facts

  • During the winter, the continent doubles in size due to the ice forming with the colder weather.
  • There are two types of ice: sea ice and glacier ice. Glacier ice forms the big icebergs. Sea ice will be smaller and break up easier.
  • We are seeing fiercer weather in Antarctica due to a lack of ozone.
  • Weddell seals maintain a breathing hole during the winter and are the only seals to stay down south for the whole year.
  • Emperor penguins breed on the ice but are more likely to be found farther inland.
  • There are planes that land on skis and on wheels on the ice.
  • One can’t use breaks on blue ice. There’s a 3-mile long runway at Patriot Base as a result to allow planes to slow down.
  • Brits have planes that take off on wheels and land with skis on ice.
  • The first birth was at the South Pole on March 4, 1961 and it was twins! A hamster named Pandora gave birth to two healthy babies.
  • On the Peninsula there are ABC claims – Argentina, Britain, and Chile. This has caused a competition among them and you will typically find their bases clustered together with their only reason for being there being because the others are there.
  • In 1948 there was a human birth on a Russian whaling ship
  • On January 10,1978, an Argentinian woman gave birth. They brought her down to Antarctica when she was 7 months pregnant.
  • As a result of the above fact, Chileans brought a newly married couple down with the hope that they would procreate.
  • The Brits created a Post Office! More on this in this post.
  • South Georgia has a rat problem. The rats were brought to the island over 200 years ago by whalers and sealers. Before rats couldn’t get from one bay to the next because of glaciers but now the glaciers are receding due to climate change and rats have the potential to move more freely. A massive project to kill off the rats by dropping bait in high density areas has been working and wildlife has been making a comeback! If the project is successful, it is estimated there will be 30-50 million more seabirds as a result! (The rats steal eggs.)
  • Palmer Station: Palmer Station is the only U.S. base on the Peninsula. Apparently each year only 7 boats are allowed to visit. Requests have to be submitted a year in advance and you are only permitted to visit on a day and time of their choosing. The 7 are chosen in a lottery. The other U.S. stations are McMurdo (below New Zealand) and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. A lot of the staff had Palmer Station merchandise on so I asked a staff member about it and found out that they were able to go on a different trip this season. For one staff member who had been on the boat for 6 season, this was their first time going.
  • How many people live in Antarctica? During the summer: 4,000-5,000. Winter: 1,150 (from 2009 census).
  • There are 43 stations below the circle. In summer that’s 2,000 people. In winter about 600. There are just over 20 countries represented.
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