Krill on ice algae, Antarctica, 1980s-1990s.; The frigid waters that surround Antarctica sustain most of the region's animal life since the land is too cold to support plants beyond moss, lichens, and a few hardy grasses. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, seals and whales in the area were hunted nearly to extinction. While their numbers are starting to bounce back, they face other dangers to their survival. The population of tiny shrimplike krill, which many Antarctic animals depend on for survival, has dropped precipitously in recent years due to changes in the environment.