Images courtesy of Shawn Harper

From: Sally Walker
Explorers Cove Field Camp, New Harbor, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, October 30, 2008

Creatures from Explorers Cove

I cannot believe the astounding beauty and unusual diversity of underwater creatures in Antarctica.    Some of the incredible sea animals that Shawn Harper photographed are shown in the postcard.   Giant sea spiders (upper right) were my favorite creatures.  The scallops, brittle stars (lower right), sea stars (upper left) and gastropods (lower left) also were astounding.  The most spine-tingling creature though, was the giant ribbon worm that can harpoon prey and then coil around it with its slimy python-like body.  

The sea floor looked like a freeway of animal trackways and rest stops.  I had envisioned that these creatures would be slow and sluggish because of the incredible cold, Antarctic waters, but these creatures are not so sluggish after all.   They are quite busy, crisscrossing the sediments and making a mosaic of tracks on the sea floor.  We are studying the life on this ocean floor to predict what we will see in the fossil record. We are using photoquadrats, as seen in the center above, to understand the number of species and the amounts of each sea creature in Explorers Cove.

Antarctic Field Guide

Video: Giant Sea Spiders

Adelie Penguin Postcards

Go to the next postcard

Postcards from the Field: Polar Fossil Mysteries

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more


Antarctica is unique. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. The land is barren and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. Antarctica is almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle...more

Christchurch, New Zealand

Landing in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the world's windiest airports, is unforgettable. Snowcapped Southern Alps, braided streams criss-cross the landscape amidst a patchwork quilt of green pastures,...more

Clothing Distribution Center, United States Antarctic Program

I live near Atlanta, Georgia, where "CDC" means the Center for Disease Control. In Christchurch, "CDC" means the Clothing Distribution Center for the United States Antarctic Program. At this Center, workers...more

Boarding U.S. Airforce C-17 Globemaster III

Finally the fax arrived that weather conditions in Antarctica had improved dramatically, and our flight was scheduled for noon on October 10. On that day, we hurried to the CDC, donned our Extreme Cold...more

Flight over Southern Ocean

With the brakes retooled, we were finally ready for take off in the C-17. Take off was amazing, despite all the noise generated by the massive engines (we had to wear ear plugs or headphones): I was pushed...more

Arrival on Ross Island, Antarctica

About an hour before we were scheduled to land, we started descending and the weather was clear. We next spotted the snow-and-ice covered Transantarctic Mountains (TAM), and our spirits lifted: we were...more

McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica

McMurdo Station in Antarctica gives one the impression of an impermanent, transient establishment nestled at the base of volcanic cinder cones, an isolated ice civilization at the edge of the unknown....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA