6 spooky facts about the Antarctic

From oozing 'blood waterfalls' to giant deep-sea spiders, the Antarctic harbours some spooky secrets. Read on to uncover the truth... if you dare.


There’s something inherently eerie about the Antarctic – an alien realm shrouded in silence and unsympathetic cold. No wonder it’s been used as the backdrop for many horror movies, including The Thing and Alien vs. Predator.

This hostile landscape harbours many oddities that spotlight its other-worldliness. These five marvels might be frightening, but hopefully they will encourage you to champion the Antarctic’s protection.

The Antarctic Blood Falls

A glacier with blood-red liquid running out of the ice and into the ocean

The Blood Falls seeps from the end of the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney. The tent at left provides a sense of scale for just how big the phenomenon is. Peter Rejcek

White snow seeping with blood-red meltwater sounds horrific, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Taylor Glacier. Since its discovery in 1911, the colour of the falls has puzzled scientists. Researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks finally solved the mystery in 2017. The brine salt water flowing from the glacier contains iron, and when it comes into contact with oxygen, the iron oxidises, giving the water its deep crimson colour. It’s basically the same process that turns iron dark red when it rusts.

Ocean arachnids

A sea spider with a tiny body and long, pale legs on a black background

If you suffer from arachnophobia you might want to skip this part. It’s hard to believe, but skittering around in the dark on the Antarctic ocean floor, are sea spiders. They’re actually marine arthropods. In the Antarctic these creepy crawlies can grow up to 50 cm across. If they’re not yet strange enough, they also breathe through holes in their legs. After having read that many people will probably never sleep again.

The “Pyramid” of the Antarctic

Satellite photo of a strikingly symmetrical pyramid-shaped mountain mostly buried in deep snow.
Snow-covered polar landscape with a jagged mountain range on the horizon,

In 2016, a pyramid-shaped mountain located in the southern part of the Ellsworth mountains nearly broke the Internet. Some speculated that it was the remnants of an ancient civilization. Others believed it was constructed by aliens. The truth was much simpler. Experts concluded that its architect was Mother Nature. Hundreds of millions of years of erosion created this beautiful monolith.

Watermelon snow

A cliff of ice with layers of bright red stained throughout. Ice covered ocean is visible behind.
Red-stained snow with low-slung green buildings in the background

This phenomenon transforms parts of the Antarctic into life-sized, candy-coloured ice. Although it looks good enough to eat, you wouldn’t want to do that.  The cold-resistant microscopic algae Chlamydomonas nivalis releases red and green spores as the ice warms during the Antarctic summer, resulting in an algal bloom that causes the snow’s unique appearance. It’s believed that this also makes the snow inedible and toxic to humans. So, put away your ice cream cones.

Antarctic graveyard

Skeleton of a ferocious-looking sea creature displayed in a museum

The Antarctic has more than a few skeletons in its closet. Hidden beneath the snow on James Ross Island, scientists discovered almost a tonne of fossils. They were the remains of ancient sea creatures, including those of a mosasaurus – a gigantic whale-like creature. Although this was an extraordinary discovery, it’s best to let sleeping bones lie; we don’t want these monsters to return and haunt us.

Singing ice

Aerial view of a beautiful iceberg

There is nothing creepier than the Antarctic singing ice. The ‘song’ was accidentally discovered when scientists used seismic sensors on the Ross Ice Shelf. The sound that’s inaudible to humans due to its frequency was detected in their recordings. Described as a doleful hum, the sound is created when the wind blows across the coarse surface of the ice shelf. The melody is enough to make your blood curdle.

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