Have you ever wondered how animals manage to survive in the harsh Antarctic environment? What do they eat during those long winter months when ice and darkness cover the land and sea?
This article explores two of the big ideas in science: food webs and adaptations for life.
A food web image and accompanying text explain the movement of energy from phytoplankton through to top predators – seals, whales and orca. This is an engaging way to support learners to make sense of diagrams while supporting the science capability ‘Interpret representations’. One important science concept to note is that the arrows in the food web go from prey species (those who get eaten) to predators. This shows the movement of the energy in food from one animal to another – not who eats who.
The article also explains the special adaptations that allow Weddell seals and Antarctic toothfish to survive in the extremely cold conditions. The animals have both structural adaptations (fat deposits and the ability to see in low-light conditions) and physiological adaptations (the ability to slow their breathing and/or heart rates).
Teacher support material
The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from TKI. (Look for the PDF download icon under the article abstract.) It includes three activities:
- Design an article of clothing (structural adaptations).
- The impact of relative surface area (body size).
- Thinking ethically (toothfish research).
Check your school resource area for this article from the 2012 level 4 Connected journal ‘Oceans: a source of life’ or order it from the Ministry of Education.
Learn more about:
- Antarctic marine ecosystem
- Marine food webs
- Why is Antarctica so cold?
- Animal species in Antarctica – seals, penguins and whales
- Marine organisms and adaptations
- Animal and plant adaptations in Antarctic species – activity
Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.
The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email email@example.com.
The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.