The South Shetland Islands are a string of islands running parallel to the north west coast of the Antarctic peninsula. The South Shetlands are almost completely ice covered. About 2-3 percent is ice free, usually along the coast, where all life is found whether penguins, seals, or the human inhabitants of the various bases. The islands are frequently visited by tourist cruise ships and each has a different character. From north to south, the main islands are: Elephant Island, King George Island, Penguin Island, Bridgeman Island, Aitcho Islands, Greenwich Island, Half Moon Island, Livingston Island and Deception Island.