Wildlife in Antarctica
Antarctica has a huge amount of wildlife, with some animals specifically endemic to the region while others migrate yearly from other areas to breed and feed. Known for its extreme environment and cold temperatures, you might think that there is little life in Antarctica, but it’s quite the opposite. Life thrives here in abundance, with each wildlife species showing how they are adaptable, resilient, and special in their own way.
Almost all animals found in Antarctica are dependent on the ocean, which is why we spend our days sailing the seas around the peninsula, visiting islands and exploring hidden coves and bays. Let’s take a look at some of the wildlife we encounter.
The most identifiable animal when Antarctica comes to mind and one of its ‘main attractions’ is penguins. You can see up to eight of the world’s seventeen species of penguin here. The region we visit is home to Adélie, Gentoo, Chinstrap, King, Macaroni, Rockhopper, Magellanic and Emperor Penguins. We know the locations of some of the largest penguin colonies and seeing hundreds of thousands of penguins gathered together in their rookery for the first time is a sight you’ll never forget. Watching them waddle around on land is a pure pleasure, but you will also witness their elegance while swimming in the sea. Penguins are charming, funny, and fascinating animals, certainly a guest favorite.
There are six species of seals that we see in Antarctica and though they were once almost hunted to the brink of extinction, their populations have recovered and now we are fortunate to see them flourishing in this pristine environment. On a visit to the region, you might spot Southern Elephant, Weddell, Leopard, Fur, Crabeater and Ross seals. Depending on the species they might be hauled out in harems on the beach, lounging on ice floes or bobbing around in the ocean. Watching seals hunt, play and snooze the day away is a great pleasure for our guests.
Whale sightings cause a stir on the ship, and we are always on the lookout for these massive creatures. Whale encounters are plentiful but even more common later in the season when they have migrated to the area to feed. The moment we depart on our voyage we are spotting whales species such as Blue, Humpback, Orca, Minke, Southern Right and Fin whales. Guests are amazed at the close encounters they have with whales while Zodiac cruising, kayaking or even while exploring the shore. Watching whales up close as they feed, travel and ‘put on a show’ is one of the most exhilarating moments you can have in Antarctica.
It’s worth noting we also frequently see dolphins! Hourglass dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins have been known to jump out of the sea as we travel south, which is always a fun and exciting moment.
Antarctica is a bird lover’s dream with a plethora of unique and rarely seen species. Even if you don’t count yourself as a ‘birder’ the excitement of spotting these flying wonders catches on. On any given trip you may likely see Albatross, Skuas, Petrels, Blue-Eyed Shags, Snowy Sheathbills and many, many more. Don’t worry, we always have a resident bird expert on board to guide and inform you of the many different types of birds.
Which Antarctic animal would you most like to see? Contact us anytime to learn about our voyages and find out when you can discover Antarctica’s awesome wildlife!