I.D. Antarctica 2020

Bay, Western Antarctic Peninsula, with icebergs in the background

Help identify some of the amazing marine organisms that live in Antarctica!

Join Andrew Corso, a PhD candidate at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and identify “mystery” creatures from his Winter 2020 research cruise off the coast of the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

During January-February 2020, this adventure unfolded in real-time via weekly blog posts.  In April 2020, Andrew facilitated a similar virtual program in conjunction with NJ 4-H from Home.

Now, we’ve compiled these resources here to help students and families explore life in the Southern Ocean, with Andrew as your guide.  You can follow along using by using the table below. Each challenge provides a link to Andrew’s original blog post, the identification key and an explanation of the answer by Andrew.

Especially for K12 Teachers: We’ve created this slide deck, with abbreviated content, to share with your students.  It will allow them to step through each week’s challenges without skipping ahead to the answers.  All of the answers are linked in this separate slide.  You may also want to use this brief Antarctica Worksheet to get oriented.

Challenge Resources
A white bird above the snow of Antarctica Start with Andrew’s Mystery Creature Challenge #1:  Sea Birds

Download this week’s identification key here: Week 1 Mystery Creature and Identification Key

Did you get it right?  Check your answer here.

Hyperiid Amphipod Ready for more? Try Andrew’s Mystery Creature Challenge #2: Zooplankton

Download this week’s identification key here:  Week 2 Mystery Creature and Identification Key

Did you get it right?  Check your answer here.

Fish to identify in Week #3 Now you’ve got the hang of it! Here’s Mystery Creature Challenge #3: Fish

Download this week’s identification key here: Week 3 Mystery Creature and Identification Key

Did you get it right?  Check your answer here.

Want to know more about this mystery creature?

  • Watch Andrew explain his research on Antarctic fishes in this 45-minute video recording
  • Explore more about these unusual Antarctic fishes with this Polar Data Story
Zooplankton predator-prey, Antarctica Test your skills!  Identify a pair of Mystery Creatures in Andrew’s Challenge #4: Zooplankton Predator-Prey

Download this week’s identification key here to identify both these zooplankton: Week 4 Mystery Creature and Identification Key

Did you get it right?  Check your answer here.

Want to know more about these mystery creatures?

  • Watch Andrew talk about the role of these zooplankton in the marine food web, and find out more about the Long Term Ecological research (LTER) at Palmer Station in this 37-minute video recording
Bird and Chicks, Antarctica Bonus round! Mystery Creature Challenge #5 Penguins

Download this week’s key and and test your ability to identify different species of penguins: Week 5 Mystery Creature and Identification Key

Did you get it right?  Check your answer here.

Want to know more about penguins on the Western Antarctic Peninsula?

About our scientist:

Andrew Corso, a PhD candidate at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, will be leading I.D. Antarctica. While he is primarily researching the impacts of climate change on Antarctic fishes, he has the opportunity to work with scientists studying a variety of Antarctic organisms, ranging from bacteria to whales. Andrew’s greatest passion is photography and his specialized equipment will help illustrate the otherworldly animals of the Southern Ocean.