McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica

Ice Shelf Organisms

A variety of flora and fauna can be found at the surface of the ice shelf. They include shells, algae and sponges that lived on the sea floor, but became trapped in the base of the ice shelf, and then worked their way to the surface as a result of the combined surface melting and basal freezing processes. In addition, there are scattered examples of desiccated seals and penguins, which had probably become disorientated and wandered inland, before starving to death.

Ice Shelf Organisms
Slightly fractured fragile shell of a pectin resting on a bed of gravel on the ice shelf surface. The gravel is derived from the sea floor and froze to the base of the ice shelf when it became grounded.
Ice Shelf Organisms
Small fragment of coral from the surface of the ice shelf.
Ice Shelf Organisms
A sponge resting on the surface of the ice shelf, again derived from the sea bottom.
Ice Shelf Organisms
Another sponge, resembling a hat, resting on the surface of the ice shelf. Compass for scale.
Ice Shelf Organisms
A desiccated leopard seal lying on the surface of the ice shelf.
   
Photos Michael Hambrey, November and December 2010.