Pressure ridges near Scott Base.

Sea ice gets compressed against the shore near the southern tip of Pram Point sea ice is forced into the shoreline and crumples and breaks in features known as pressure ridges.

Aerial view (3000 feet) of pressure ridges near Scott Base.

I took an interesting guided tour of this area. (Secretary of State John Kerry toured it a couple days after I did and pictures from his tour appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post.)


To a certain extent Ice can flow and bend but if it is stressed beyond a certain point it breaks.

Sea water pools on the surface during high tide.

The dramatic ice features are certainly very interesting, but there is more to the story.  Weddell seals swim from the Ross Sea under the sea ice to find the gaps and holes around the pressure ridges.  They haul themselves out on the ice, which provides them safe refuge from their predators (leopard seals and orcas) that swim in more open waters.

Adult Weddell Seals resting on the sea ice.

The relative safety of the sea ice makes this a good place to raise seal pups, and we came across several on our tour.

A seal pup and mother.

Weddell seals live further south than any other mammal (except for the few people who live at the South Pole) and Scott Base is the southernmost point in their range.