Theodore is one lucky bear to be travelling with you! I bet he's the first bear ever to visit Antartica. Why do polar bears live at the North Pole and not at the South Pole? And why do penguins live at the South Pole and not at the North Pole?
Thanks for the question. We're very lucky to have Theodore!
You have hit a very common mistake people make. People ask us all the
time about polar bears. We won't see any down here - they don't live
here. They live in the Arctic Circle (think North Pole). If you
followed my friend Mark's journal from the summer, he was working where
polar bears live.
Polar bears have adapted to live at the Arctic Circle. They have
special body features and skills that make them good at living there.
Picking up a polar bear and transporting it to Antarctica probably
wouldn't be so good for the polar bear. Antarctica is a different
location, requiring different adaptations.
We might see some penguins down here though. There are two potential
types we might see: Adelie penguins and Emperor penguins. We'll talk
more about them in a later journal. When we do, I'll be sure to point
out their adaptations for living here in Antarctica.
So, now that you know all this. A question for you. Coca Cola runs an
advertisement on TV in the winter with polar bears and penguins
together. Is that even possible?
Here's something more to think about on the penguin versus polar bear concept. Bears of any species are found only in the Northern Hemisphere (except for the spectacled bear), and penguins in the Southern Hemisphere (okay, a tiny bit into the north in the Galapagos). Though they wouldn't be in the same habitat, there is one county in the world where you can find both penguins and bears. Where is it?
Let's see if we can answer Stacy's question. I think the spectacled
bear was a hint. Anyone have a guess?
I think this is on the right track. I was going to guess Peru. If you
think about it, you need to find either a bear that lives just below the
equator or a penguin that lives just above the equator to solve the
question. We'll have to check with Dr. Stacy Kim for the right answer.
You are absolutely right!
You could go from seeing spectacled bears in the Andes mountains of Chile to seeing Humboldt penguins on the Patagonian coast of Chile. We will not see Humbodlt penguins down here at McMurdo, but what two species of penguins will we see (if we are lucky)?
OH! Dr. Kim has posted another challenge to us. C'mon everyone out
there, let's see who knows the answer? What two species of penguins
might we see here in Antarctica (if we are lucky)?
Oh, yes! Alli got one species of penguin, the Emperor penguin. I hope
we see one of those. There is another species we might see here in
Antarctica. Does anyone know the other species of penguin that we might
I did hear that! There is even a web site where you can track his
The only thing is that it is a LONG swim from New Zealand to McMurdo
Sound. It's about 2600 kilometers, that's 1615 miles or more!
That will take a long time to swim!
You and your first graders are right. If we're lucky we'll get to see
both of Antarctica's penguins: the Adelie and the Emperor. Although
Theodore and I haven't seen any yet, we always keep our eyes open when
we're out on the sea ice.
McMurdo Station is on Ross Island, so we're not that far from the Adelie
penguin rookery. Maybe, if we're lucky....
As for seals, it's funny you should bring this up, because our dive hut
was taken over by a seal yesterday. We went to go diving and there he
was! Our hut certainly smells today! I think it mostly has to do with
what they eat and the waste they produce. Up on the ice (or in the dive
hut), seals just go the bathroom wherever and whenever they feel like
it. That tends to make the area around them a pretty smelly place. It
could also be for marking their territory. Breathing holes through the
ice are pretty valuable, so a seal may try to make a hole smell like
them so that everyone knows the hole belongs to them.