The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of mainland Antarctica, and the only part of the continent that extends beyond the Antarctic Circle.
Essentially a rugged mountain chain, at generally 2,000 metres high, the Peninsula experiences a summer melting season, which results in a number of isolated, snow-free areas forming habitats for many primitive plants, microbes and inverterbrates, and offering breeding grounds for marine mammals and birds.
In particular, southern elephant and southern fur seals are found in the ocean around the Peninsula, and native crabeater, Ross, Weddell, and leopard seal are all ice-breeding species. Several species of bird breed in the ice-free summer months, such as southern fulmar, blue-eyed shag and Antarctic tern, plus chinstrap and gentoo penguins. A number of petrels – Wilson’s storm petrel and snow petrel – burrow into the ground to build their nests.
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