Seeing is believing, the saying goes. But looking at these photographs, is Antarctica really of this earth? Oceangoing birds with wings 8 feet across. Floating ice sculptures the size of several football fields. And a color palette of ice — white so perfect that it blinds, cotton-candy blue and, in between, infinite shades of gray. • Welcome to the bottom of the world. • University of South Florida biologists have been here more than a month looking for a key player in the food chain. The Antarctic silverfish, a staple food for seabirds and penguins, has disappeared, and global warming is the suspected perpetrator. • The investigation has taken these scientists to places so remote there are no accurate maps. • Glaciers fracture, freeing icebergs beautiful and lethal. Sixty-knot winds turn a 300-foot ship into a nauseating roller coaster. Spouting whales and 2-ton seals are at home. Human beings? They're the strangers here. • The USF team will return in May, perhaps with a story to tell about climate change. In the meantime, we have their pictures.
— Kevin McGeever, Times staff writer