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Taylor Valley

A wind-blasted glacial valley with mummified seals and "water bears"!

Information about Taylor Valley

Taylor Valley was created by the passage of the Taylor Glacier. The valley itself runs from the glacier in the west to McMurdo Sound in the east, a distance of about 18 miles. It’s one of three dry valleys in the Transantarctic Mountains of Victoria Land and was first discovered by the British National Antarctic Expedition of 1903.

Taylor Valley is a flat area, usually ice-free, that has a very dry climate year-round, but has moist soils in summer and even small melt pools close the glacier’s edge.

This unique environment makes it an important site for Antarctic mosses and some of the tiny creatures that survive on and in them, including the remarkable tardigrade (also known as water bears). These fascinating creatures are virtually indestructible, being able to survive for years entombed in ice, or desiccated without any water until conditions become favorable again.

Despite the short-lived moist conditions in summer, the valley has an incredibly dry and cold climate. As a result of this, there are the mummified remains of several seals across the site. Some of them have been “sandblasted” down to the bone by the force of dust blown in gale-force winds. There are also eerily “carved” boulders as a result of this same severe wind erosion.

Taylor Valley is a geologically fascinating landscape, with unique climatic conditions found nowhere else in Antarctica.

Interesting facts about Taylor Valley

Fauna: Invertebrates inhabit moss and algal communities in the zone, including Arthropods, Tardigrades, Rotifers and Protozoa. ‘Mummified’ (desiccated) seals provide important habitats for microflora and fauna. Designated as a Visitor Zone in the McMurdo Dry Valleys ASMA, allowing visits to the Area while protecting the surrounding environment.

Pictures of Taylor Valley

Our trips to Taylor Valley

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