20 Fascinating Things Hidden under Antarctica

Have you ever wondered what lies under the frozen continent? Under all that ice, there’s a shockingly vibrant world, were thousands of exotic creatures thrive. Today, we’ll explore that hidden world and discover what treasures it holds.

#20. Brinicles

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

Brinicles are brine icicles that are formed when trapped, extracooled brine escapes from the ice, and freezes seawater that is less salty. Amazing.

Keep reading to see what marvellous creatures are hidden under the ice.

#19. Microalgae

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

The brown patches above the emperor penguins shown in the picture are microalgae, which cling to the ice and convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to algal biomass.

The favorite sea animal of many people is coming up next.

#18. Weddell Seal

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

How adorable is this curious seal pup? These seals are the most southerly breeding mammal in the world, and clearly don’t mind the cold.

But how can they survive under all that ice? Check the next page to find out.

#17. Surviving the Cold

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

But how do the Weddell seals survive the extreme temperatures? They always stay near the coast, and breath air through holes in the ice. 

The most  famous blue-blooded animal is coming up next on #16.

#16. Antarctic Octopus

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

There are 16 species of octopus in Antarctica. All of them have a specialized pigment in their blood, which turns it blue, to help them survive subfreezing temperatures.

Wonder what the sea-floor looks like? Check out the next slide.

#15. Under the Sea

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

Divers swim more than 200 feet below the surface, usually for five hours at a time. The light is dim, and temperatures are usually below 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, a marine animal that glows in the dark.

#14. Bioluminescent Crown Jellyfish

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

Ever wondered what those jellyfish Spongebob is always catching actually looks like? This type of jellyfish is some 14 inches wide, floats by at 130 feet, and it glows. These odd creatures avoid direct light, which can kill them.

Check the next page to see an animal that is gigantically small.

#13. Giant Antarctic Isopod

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

The glyptonotus antarcticus can grow to a maximum length of 3.5 inches, which is pretty big for an isopod; hence, it’s considered a giant of the isopod family. It looks like a pill bug, and rolls up when threatened.

One of our favorite sea animals is coming up on #12.

#12. Sea Star

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

The Astropectinidae are a family of sea stars and usually these starfish live on the seabed. This sea star is nestled up to a sea sponge. Coincidence? I think not. 

Click on the next page so see one of the oddest creatures on our list.

#11. Antarctic Marine Invertebrates

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

Marine invertebrates living in the freezing waters below Antarctica are one of its hidden gems. There is a large variety of them, and they all come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors.

We have reached the Top #10. Make sure you don’t miss what’s coming up next.

#10. Antarctic Scallops

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

The adamussium colbecki, is a large, slow-growing scallop that lives on the seabed. The one in the picture is probably decades old. 

#9 next looks like an ordinary fish, but it’s actually quite the opposite.

#9. Icefish

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

This type of fish swims at the bottom of the sea, and has antifreeze proteins in its blood, which help it withstand temperatures below 29 degrees Fahrenheit. There are over 50 species of icefish in Antarctica.

Don’t let #8 fool you into thinking it’s a plant…

#8. Tunicates

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

Tunicates, or sea squirts as they’re also called, are tethered to the seafloor, siphoning in water to collect food. They look very simple, like sponges, but they’re quite evolved. Although they’re invertebrates, their larvae have spinal cords. 

The second mammal on our list is coming up on #7.

#7. Humpback Whale

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

This enormous creature is as huge as a school bus. They feed in the polar waters of Antarctica, and then migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth. 

Up next, a very tiny creature is featured in #6.

#6. Antarctic Krill

Photo: Courtesy of Antarctica.gov

This small, swimming crustacean lives in large schools, called swarms, which sometimes reach densities of 10,000-30,000 individual animals per cubic meter. Talk about teamwork!

We have reached our Top #5 picks! Check out the next page to see.

#5. Antactic Springtail

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

This creepy little fellow is, on average, 1 or 2 millimetres long. Although they look like insects, they’re actually considered animals. Really ugly, scary-looking animals.

Up next, an animal nicknamed The Hoff (and no, it has nothing to do with David Hasselhof)

#4. Hoff Crab

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

This type of deep-sea squat lobster, also known as the Yeti crab, actually farms its own food. 

We are reaching our top 3! Make sure to click on the next slide.

#3. Anemone

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

The edwardsiella andrillae is a type of anemone that was discovered in 2013. It is the only marine animal that is embedded in the underside of the Antarctic icesheets, letting its tentacles angle. Truly impressive.

Up next, one of the strangers creatures hosted by the Antarctic waters.

#2. Sea Spiders

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

These strange creatures, which look like they came out of your nightmares, are an example of what is known as polar gigantism: in other places, they’re very tiny, but in the icy Antarctic water, they have legs that span seven inches. Guess who’s not sleeping tonight?

Make sure you don’t miss #1!

#1. Feather Star

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

This marvelous creature, which looks like a plant, is actually a type of starfish. It waves its frond-like arms, groping for food particles, and it can actually swim. Unbelievable, right?