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The South Pole is the coldest, windiest, and driest place on Earth. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at the South Pole; it went down to -128.6°F (-88.0°C)! The Antarctic land does not support many life forms. Most of the land of Antarctica is a frozen desert, with less precipitation than the Sahara Desert (under 2 inches = 5 cm a year). Oddly enough, 70% of the world's fresh water is frozen in the region of the South Pole.
All of the Antarctic animals have adapted to life in extremely cold conditions. Some, like the whales, seals, and birds, have an insulating layer of fat to protect them from the cold. Others, like many fish and insects, have special chemicals in their blood (natural antifreeze proteins) that keep them from freezing. Many animals (like penguins and seals) have a compact body form and thick skin to help retain body heat. Birds also have waterproof plumage (feathers) and downy insulating feathers.
Some animals leave Antarctica during its horrendous coldest months, from June until August. Animals like the Humpback whale migrate to warmer waters to reproduce after eating huge amouns of krill in Antarctic waters. Many other animals (like the Emperor penguin) remain at the South Pole year-round.
Land and sea animals from Antarctica include:
Antarctic Animal printouts:
Small crustaceans that are eaten by many animals, including baleen whales.
A small bird that flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again each year.
A baleen whale that is the largest animal that ever lived on Earth.
The largest penguin; it lives on ice packs in Antarctica.
A long-flippered baleen whale that sings and frolics in the water.
The smallest baleen whale. It sings and has a white band on each flipper.
Octopi have eight legs and live on the sea floor.
Orca or Killer Whale
A toothed whale that lives in small pods.
Penguins are birds that swim very well but cannot fly. Many penguins live in Antarctica.
Sea stars, another name for starfish, are animals that live on the ocean floor.
A porpoise (a small toothed whale) from the Southern Hemisphere.
The largest toothed whale, over 50 feet long. It eats giant squid.
The squid is a fast-swimming invertebrate with ten arms.
The Weddell seal is a large, nocturnal pinniped from Antarctica.
Zooplankton are tiny animals that float in the seas and other bodies of water.
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