By Amanda Biederman
Chief Science Correspondent
I landed ashore at Palmer Station, Antarctica two weeks ago. In that time I've hiked up a glacier, explored a nearby island, and gone boating in the waters surrounding the station. I've had the opportunity to see a number of Antarctic animals including a Gentoo penguin, several fur and elephant seals, and many different species of birds.
I've noticed that these animals often shy away from humans less readily than animals back home. Antarctica has remained so isolated that its native fauna do not recognize humans as a threat. That should never change.
Antarctica's wildlife at the three U.S. bases is protected by the 1978 Antarctic Conservation Act, an extension of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty System that set aside the Antarctic continent for international scientific research. The Act represents one effort to mitigate the potential effect of human presence on the continent.