A World Centered on Sea Ice Changes at the Poles

For eons, the polar marine food chain has been closely linked to the seasonal formation and retreat of sea ice. Now, as that ice rapidly melts in the Arctic and along the Antarctic Peninsula, this intricate web of life is undergoing major shifts, benefiting some creatures and putting others at risk. READ MORE

 

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Spectacled eiders gather in huge numbers on Arctic ice floes in spring and summer, feeding on clams resting on the shallow bottom of the north Bering and Chukchi seas. As the Arctic warms and sea ice retreats earlier than in previous years, the timing of phytoplankton blooms is shifting, which has reduced the amount of phytoplankton that once drifted down to the sea floor. That has led to a sizeable decline in clam populations, the favored prey of spectacled eiders, which has in turn led to a steep drop in numbers of these diving ducks. (Photo courtesy of Jim Lovvorn)

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