Total count (TC) of bacteria in drifting annual pack-ice in austral spring fluctuated between 2.8-106 and 2,09-109 dm3. TC of bacteria was lowest in the upper layer of a large pack-ice fragment, emersed above water surface and almost completely free of diatoms; it was comparable to TC of bacteria in surrounding sea water, which was very low at this time (1,92- 106 — 5.8-106 dm -3). TC of bacteria increased in the deeper layers of pack-ice, attaining a maximum in the middle layer characterized by a high count of diatoms. TC of bacteria was highest in small pack-ice pieces 10—20 kg in being and densely overgrown with diatoms. Bacterial population in pack-ice was dominated by rods (62%), and it contained filamentous bacteria (2.4%) and prosthecate forms (4,8%), rarely present in deep sea. Mean volume of bacterial cell (0,206/μm3) was small, only slightly exceeding that of cells of free-living bacteria in sea water in summer.
Macrozooplankton was caught at 17 stations with a Bongo net from the 0-200 m layer. The stations were located near the pack ice edge, between Elephant Islands and the South Orkney Islands. The cluster analysis of 58 recognized taxa allowed to distinguish three regions: the western — near Elephant Island, the middle and the western one — at the South Orkney Islands. No clear difference in macrozooplankton species composition at the open sea stations and those near pack ice was found. The average biomass of macrozooplankton in the investigated area amounted to 82.8 g/1000 m3 (95% CL: 47.2-94.2 g/1000m3). Macrozooplankton was dominated by salps and krill. The biomass and 95% confidence limits were 52.0 g/1000 m3 (15.6-59.2 g/1000 m3) and 26.1 g/1000 m3 (8.4-30.4 g/1000 m3), respectively. Differences in the biomass distribution of some taxa in three distinguished regions were observed. Except of salps the biomass of particular taxa caught near the pack ice edge and the same taxa caught in stations distant from this edge were similar. The biomass of salps was evidently higher in most northern stations.
At the northern border of pack ice the study on chlorophyll a content, density of cells, species composition and domination in samples from the drifting ice floes and from brash ice was carried out. 102 taxa of algae were found in the pack ice. In the study area algal taxa were rather uniformly distributed. In different ice layers the qualitative composition of diatom assemblages was similar and usually the diatom Nitzschia cylindrus was dominant and most frequent. Chlorophyll a content (from 0.12 to 334.5 mg m-3) and the density of cells (from 0.3 to 362 x l0 6 cm) varied strongly in various habitats. Ice floes near the northern pack ice border contained low values of chlorophyll a (mean value 0.50 ±0.28 mg m-3) . However, brash sea ice originating from ice floes, contained 142.4 ±117.5 mg m-3 of chlorophyll α in visibly discoloured and 30.1 ±24.3 mg m~3 of chlorophyll α in not visibly discoloured parts on average. The range of chlorophyll α content and the presence of characteristic species allow to distinguish brash sea ice infiltration assemblage of diatoms.