"What the Ice Gets, the Ice Keeps"

There is young ice (less than a year old), multi-year ice (two years or older), and these different sections, called floes, often surround massive icebergs that break off from the ice shelves along the coastline. Within the cradle of the Weddell Sea, this frozen mix swirls in a clockwise pattern called “the gyre,” with most ice eventually reaching the northern edge of the ice pack and slowly melting into the stormy South Atlantic Ocean. All of this ice and snow is blindingly white, the water beneath is pristine and there are penguins, seals, birds and whales everywhere. The landscape is like an always-changing sculpture.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?:

There are a number of Antarctic research bases around the shoreline of the Weddell Sea, but no people live on the pack ice. Shackleton and his crew just barely survived the months they spent on the ice in 1915, and nobody since then has purposefully tried to survive that long here under such extreme conditions. Shackleton thought of the Weddell Sea wildlife as an emergency food supply, whereas now the few visitors to this area see penguins, seals and whales as photo opportunities. The one thing the Weddell Sea does help with is fresh water. As salty seawater freezes, it loses most of its salt. So, in a pinch, you just have to melt the top layers of snow and ice for clean, refreshing drinking water. Good luck getting enough of it warm enough for a bath or shower, though! All Antarctic research bases in the area get their food and supplies each year thanks to ice-crushing ships like the S.A. Agulhas II or cargo airplanes.