Antarctica is the coldest and windiest of the continents. It is also one of the driest, despite being covered in ice sheets up to 4 km thick. Antarctica is more than 95 percent ice covered and contains about 90 per cent of the world's fresh water. Because of its thick ice cover, it is the highest of all continents, with an average elevation of about 2,300m. Antarctica is the coldest continent. The lowest temperature ever recorded anywhere on Earth, -88.3° C was recorded here.
The Antarctic is an extreme environment for any living thing to survive in, but marine and land animals of the Antarctic, have adapted to the extreme conditions. Only the outside of the Antarctic gets snow, around the coast, the inside gets only a few centimetres a year so it is technically classed as a desert. The majority of the Antarctic continent is covered by permanent ice and snow leaving less than 1% available for by plants. No vertebrate animals live on the land Antarctica. Invertebrates like mites and ticks, which can tolerate the very low temperatures, live here but are still considered rare.
The surrounding ocean is home to many creature. Large numbers of whales feed on the rich marine life, like krill, shrimps, and small fish. Many different species of seal and about 12 species of birds live and breed in the Antarctic. The most prominent inhabitant of the Antarctic is the penguin. Penguins are birds highly adapted for marine life, having a shape that gives them good agility underwater. They also have a waterproof coat of dense feathers and a well developed layer of fat for insulation. Albatrosses are the largest of seabirds, with a wing span reaching 3m and a body mass exceeding 12 kg. All seals are well insulated with a thick layer of blubber, as are whales.