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Visit Beneath Ice

David Schoonmaker

From Under Antarctic IceClick to Enlarge Image

The stark lifelessness of the Antarctic surface only emphasizes the spectacular diversity of life beneath the ice. In Under Antarctic Ice: The Photographs of Norbert Wu (University of California Press; $39.95, cloth), Wu and coauthor Jim Mastro take us for an under-ice tour of McMurdo Sound. Moving clockwise from the upper left, we see anchor ice forming in the water column as supercooled water moves north from beneath the McMurdo and Ross ice shelves in the polar spring and early summer. We watch the crinoid Promachocrinus kerguelensis walk and cling to rocks or sponges using "feet" called cirri. And we meet the emperor penguin, a proficient swimmer and diver capable of holding its breath for up to 22 minutes and exceeding 500 meters in depth. The Weddell seal, however, dethrones the emperor, making dives lasting up to 82 minutes and reaching the deepest parts of McMurdo Sound, some 700 meters down. These and 136 more photographs and captions offer peeks into places few of us will ever be privileged enough to visit.—David Schoonmaker

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