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head of Ross MacPhee

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scrapbook page with pictures of ship docking in Antarctica, Antarctic animals like albatross, seal pup and penguin
black and white photo of the ship pulled up to the ice shelf

Land Ho!

In January 1911, the British and Norwegian ships reached Antarctica separately. The two vessels anchored to the Ross Ice Shelf, a large floating piece of ice. About 645 kilometers (400 miles) apart, neither team knew where the other one was.

icy blue Antarctic landscape

Land of Ice and Snow

Did you know that Antarctica is the coldest continent on Earth? Winter temperatures at the Pole plunge to –70℃ (–94℉). Even in the summer, temperatures can dip below freezing. 

The teams arrived to a strange, white world. As far as they could see, snow and ice covered everything except the mountain peaks. In fact, the South Pole is on top of a huge mass of ice. This East Antarctic Ice Sheet is 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) thick. 

penguin, albatross, and seal pup

Top row: Adélie penguin, albatross. Bottom row: Weddell seal pup

Antarctic Animals

Antarctica is a very cold place, but a few animals have traits that make it possible for them to survive there. The only mammals are seals and whales. Birds live along the icy coast. They include five penguin species and many seabirds.

Image Credits:

Terra Nova, © Scott Polar Research Institute; Antarctica scenery and animals, © United States Antarctic Program.