When the annual Ross Sea ice melts this area comes alive with lots of wildlife, especially at the edge of the ice shelf (which doesn’t melt). Adelie and Emperor penguins come out and can be seen just about anywhere… even walking right down the center of McMurdo Station! In addition to the penguins, the melting ice attracts more seals and both Minke and Orca (Killer) whales. They are all looking for food and since they are mammals, they need air to breathe. The ice edge has a lot of wildlife activity and Orcas will come to hunt Minkes, seals, and sometimes a penguin. The Orcas live together in Pods that span many generations. They are amazing animals and will start communicating with their young when they are still in the mother’s womb. The scientists that study them say that their communication and ability to transfer knowledge between generations actually rivals humans! When you watch them hunt in packs and look for seals sitting on ice floes you will believe it. They are highly intelligent.
The Minke whales are plankton eaters and are also pretty curious. They will poke their heads out of the water and look at you if you are on the ice edge. The penguins and seals are sometimes curious too and have been known to just walk, or waddle, up to you. It seems they all like to sleep a lot!