Antarctic Secrets: 7 Hidden Places to Uncover in the South


Antarctica is one of the most mysterious destinations on the planet. However, the world keeps uncovering intriguing Antarctic secrets that call out to the adventurous traveler.

Antarctic adventures are not for the faint of heart. It is among the most remote places and 98% of it is covered in ice. Conditions here are extreme and there is virtually no human habitation.

But the very conditions that make it inhospitable also make it a great keeper of secrets. Here are some of the frigid continent’s best kept secrets and hidden attractions:

Best Kept Secrets of Antarctica


Blood Falls

Found in East Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, this natural phenomenon was for a long time a puzzle. It is a bright red waterfall that gushes out from an icy landscape. The stark color contrast makes it a curious sight.

Scientists figured out that the color of the water was a result of its high iron content. But where does it come from? The source is an incredibly salty underground lake that acquires this color from oxidized iron.

The lake is trapped 400 meters underneath glaciers and does not see any sunlight or oxygen. It is reportedly thrice as salty as ocean water, explaining why it does not freeze. The moment it comes into contact with oxygen, the oxidation of iron stains the water. The only way to access this hidden gem is via cruise ship or helicopter.

Weird Creatures

Due to the unique environment, there are strange creatures here that you may never see anywhere else. There are a number of fish species thriving in the cold and dark waters surrounding the region. One is a mysterious, nearly transparent fish. It lacks red blood cells and hemoglobin, but rather, extracts oxygen directly from the Antarctic waters. Its blood has antifreeze proteins that make survival possible in the frigid waters.

Another strange creature is the Antarctic glass sponge. It derives its name from a silica skeleton that gives it a glass-like look. Found on the sea floor, it lives in complete darkness and icy cold temperatures. It reportedly grows only about 0.2 millimeters every year and has an incredibly low metabolism rate. This weird species can reportedly live between 5,000 and 15,000 years. According to the Guiness World Book of Records, it is the ‘oldest living animal.’

One of the latest discoveries is the strawberry feather star, reported in July 2023. It has the shape of a strawberry and sports 20 arms, some up to 8 inches in length. The new species is found in depths of up to 3,800 meters under the sea.

Mount Erebus

An iconic landmark of this barren landscape is the active volcano known as Mount Erebus. It rises prominently from Ross Island – the southernmost island on the planet. As the second-highest volcano in the continent, it rises to and elevation of 3,794 meters.

It is one of the most fascinating Antarctic secrets showcasing the interaction of fire and ice. As one of few volcanoes on the planet that is always active, it has constant emissions. On its summit crater sits a lava lake full of molten rock. Birds such as petrels and skuas often nest on its slope in the brief summer period.

Lake Vostok

If you would love to visit one of the world’s most unspoiled environments, Lake Vostok might be the best place. Described as one of the largest subglacial lakes in the world, it sits underneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. It is about 250 kilometers long, 50 kilometers wide and 800 meters deep.

According to scientists, it has been sealed off from the world for millions of years. In addition to extreme cold and utter darkness, it also has very high levels of pressure.

Besides Lake Vostok, Antarctica has numerous other subglacial lakes situated under thick ice sheets. These often form as a result of geothermal heat from the earth’s core melting ice from below. Ice cover keeps them insulated as it prevents contact with the atmosphere.

Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains

These mountains are among the best kept Antarctic secrets and for good reason. Covering an area of about 1,200 kilometers, these mountain ranges are a scientific puzzle. They are some of the oldest mountains on the planet.

They are an extraordinary natural wonder for several reasons. First, the highest peaks are over 3,000 meters high – about the size of the European Alps. But they are completely buried under close to 600 meters of ice. According to scientists, they originated the first glacier that has extended to become the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Rare Meteorites

Among the most mysterious Antarctic secrets are extraterrestrial meteorite discoveries. The continent is a hotspot for these findings. It has therefore become one of the best destinations for meteorite hunters.

Part of the reason for these discoveries is that the dark rocks stand out against the icy landscape here. The landscape has few terrestrial rocks, making these easy to spot. Additionally, the ice is constantly moving, sometimes pushing them to the surface. Though meteorites fall across all parts of the planet, a majority are found in desert landscapes. (Antarctica is a polar desert). Dry desert conditions are ideal for the preservation of these rocks.

One of the latest findings was a 16.7-pound (7.6 kg) meteorite discovered in January 2023. It reportedly came from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. The parent asteroid was said to be about 4.5 billion years old.

The Mysterious Southern Ocean

Added to the list of oceans in the year 2000, the Southern Ocean is the fourth largest. As the southernmost ocean, it encircles Antarctica. Its boundaries border the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Just like the continent, it is challenging environment. In addition to the icy cold, it has some of the highest winds and roughest seas. Despite the harsh conditions, whales, seals, penguins and other creatures thrive here.

If you love water adventure, how about taking a cruise through this natural wonder? It is a great photography destination as well as one of the best stargazing spots in the south. Here you will get to see massive icebergs and glaciers and experience the Antarctic Convergence. This is where cold and warm waters converge, offering interesting phenomena for observers.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Uncover Antarctic Secrets

As the world’s fifth largest and southernmost continent, Antarctica is a lot of things. It has the lowest temperatures, the most ice and wind and the driest conditions. It also holds some of the world’s best kept secrets. Some Antarctic secrets are within the reach of avid explorers and adventurers. Others remain hidden underneath layers of ice. It is one of the best places to visit on a once in a lifetime trip. While you are here, look out for some of the world’s weirdest animals, found exclusively on these icy landscapes.

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