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Orcas in Antarctica

Whale Watch

Orcas, also known as "killer whales," are considered apex predators, occupying a niche at the top of the food web with few or no predators of their own. WHOI chemist Phoebe Lam spotted these in the Southern Ocean while working with an international team of researchers aboard the South African icebreaking polar supply and research ship SA Agulhas II. While the marine mammal scientists on board were undoubtedly interested in observing the orcas, Lam’s research focus was the microscopic organisms that lay at the other end of the food chain—phytoplankton—and their relationship to the micronutrient iron, without which no organism can survive. (Photo by Phoebe Lam, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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