Weddell Sea

Water type: Sea
Connection to the ocean: Southern ocean
Continent: Antarctica
Climate: Polar

The Weddell sea is the part of the Southern Ocean and contains the Weddell Gyre. Its land boundaries are defined by the bay formed from the coasts of Coats Land and the Antarctic Peninsula. The easternmost point is Cape Norvegia at Princess Martha Coast, Queen Maud Land. To the east of Cape Norvegia is the King Haakon VII Sea. Much of the southern part of the sea is covered by a permanent, massive ice shelf field, the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.

The sea is contained within the two overlapping Antarctic territorial claims of Argentine Antarctica, the British Antarctic Territory, and also resides partially within the Antarctic Chilean Territory.

At its widest the sea is around 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) across, and its area is around 2.8 million square kilometres (1.1×106 sq mi).[1]

The Weddell Sea is abundant with whales and seals. Characteristic fauna of the sea include the Weddell seal and killer whales, humpback whales, minke whales, leopard seals, and crabeater seals are frequently seen during Weddell Sea voyages.

The Adélie penguin is the dominant penguin species in this remote area because of their adaptation to the harsh environment. A colony of more than 100,000 pairs of Adélies can be found on volcanic Paulet Island.

Around 1997, the northernmost emperor penguin colony was discovered just south of Snowhill Island in the Weddell Sea. As the Weddell Sea is often clogged with heavy pack-ice, strong ice-class vessels equipped with helicopters are required to reach this colony.

In 2021, sponges and other unidentified suspension feeders were reported to have been found growing under the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf on a boulder at a depth of 1,233 m (872 of which were ice), 260 km from open water.

In February 2021 the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research with RV Polarstern, a colony of approximately 60 million Jonahs icefish was found to inhabit an area in the Weddell Sea. It is estimated that the colony covers around 240 square kilometers, with an average of one nest per every three square meters

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