Antarctica Wildlife Guide | Explore The Frozen Continent's Wildlife

Antarctica Wildlife Guide

Antarctica Wildlife may not be as diverse as other continents but surely offers a very distinctive journey. The frozen icy seas, isolated icebergs, and snow-filled deserts are home to great species that attract wildlife enthusiasts to explore this White Continent. Whilst speaking of wildlife, you encounter various creatures, from the antarctic seals to humongous whales, from the iconic penguins to the rest of the bird species like Albatrosses in the beautiful sky above. In totality, Antarctica is a delight for birdwatching since there are 46 namely species found in the region.

Wildlife in Antarctica may sound quite enticing for various reasons to different kinds of people, it might be an exhilarating occurrence for some while nurturing and informative for some others. Here, you will be enlightened about what you must expect from Antarctica’s wilderness; where you may spot which kind of animal; what is the best time to visit the region, and so on.
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Essential Information About Antarctica Wildlife


Best Time to Visit Antarctica

The best time to travel to Antarctica is between the months of November to March, the summer season of the region. These months are the busiest season of the year with wildlife and tourism at their peak.

November witnesses the virgin snow while seals and penguins begin to look for partners to mate. On the other hand, March sees the last lot of visitors with young inquisitive penguin chicks gushing over tourists.

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ntarctica Packages

How to Reach Antarctica

By air: Firstly, you need to take an international flight to reach Punta Arenas, Chile. From there it will only take you two hours to reach your final destination of Antarctica. Another option you could opt for is,

By sea: You could either start your voyage from Ushuaia, Argentina since 90% of the travellers choose it. However, a selected number of four voyages embark every season from South Island, New Zealand; so you might also have this opportunity.

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Places to Spot Wildlife in Antarctica


Antarctic Peninsula

About: The Antarctic peninsula is the northernmost part of Antarctica, it is a place where you could spot mammals and birds in the ocean and around the peninsula. For instance, the native crabeater seal breeds include Ross seals, Weddell seals, and Leopard seals whereas birds like Southern Fulmar, blue-eyed shag, or Antarctic tern and gentoo penguins could definitely catch your eye up in the sky or on lands.

You might also catch a glance of Wilson’s storm petrel and snow petrel building their nests on the ground in the summer season.

Highlights: December as a month is a part of the summer season when whales migrate, these majestic creatures could be seen passing through the sea, baby seals on the beaches of South Georgia, and a sky full of sea birds - courting.

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Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands no longer consist of native amphibians or reptiles of their own. In fact, the now-extinct land mammal, Warrah was once a native from here. Elephant seals, fur seals, and sea lions breed on the islands - the largest elephant seal breeding site consists of over 500 animals in total.

Sixty out of 227 bird species are said to breed on the island of Falkland, while blue whales, sperm whales, humpback whales and etc are now in recovering numbers due to illegal whaling from the 1970s.

Highlights: If you are a birding enthusiast, then bird watching here is a must for you! You could also explore different islands like Bleaker Island or Carcass Island.

Weddell Sea

Weddell Sea is a vast water body where one could witness great predators on the surface through a cruise. The leopard seal is among the top predators in the region who prey upon the smaller seal species such as the crabeater.

They are also known to attract humans, so one should beware of their distance when admiring these particular seals. Similarly, the Adélie penguins could be found here abundantly - they are small penguins with white circles around their eyes making them a cute sight. Then, we have Antarctic krill attracting huge baleen whales; the southern minke whale and humpback whale can also be frequently spotted. And lastly, the blue whale, the southern right whale, the sei whale, the fin whale, and the sperm whale pay their visits to the sea accordingly. 

Highlights: Some of the noticeable beings to look forward to seeing here are Emperor penguin, Anélie penguin, Crabeater seal, Humpback whale, Minke whale, Sperm whale, and Weddell seal.

South Georgia Islands

There are 7 million individual birds (penguins) on the island of South Georgia. They are divided into three main dominant species: 3 million pairs of Macaroni, half a million pairs of King, and 105,000 pairs of the Gentoo.

Plus, Chinstrap, adelie, and rockhopper are active but in small numbers. Penguins are most commonly found at St. Andrews Bay and Salisbury Plain on the island. South Georgia could also be explored by ships, looking around for Humpback whales, Fin whales, Southern right, and Blue whales.

Highlights: South Georgia is the world's most important seabird breeding site with an estimation of over 10 million birds. Among which are 78 known species, including half of the world's population of Antarctic prions and 250,000 albatrosses of varied species. Wildlife in Antarctica offers you something new and unusual from the ordinary wildlife and safaris.

South Shetland Islands

This is a chain of islands, namely: Elephant Island, King George Island, Livingston Island, and Deception Island. Elephant Island populates seals, chinstrap penguins, along with 2000-year-old moss colonies. Whereas King George Island is the largest among all of the above, the residents here are terns, Weddell and elephant seals, Adélie and chinstrap penguins, and huge petrels are a few to name found on the southern coast at Turret Point.

At Livingston, you will be able to watch chinstrap and gentoo penguins (and sometimes macaroni) nesting at the rocky shoreline while Deception Island is the safest harbour in the world and thus, allows a rare opportunity to tourists to take a risky yet confusing dip.

Highlights: There cannot be a better way to spend your day other than exploring all the four islands in one go. You are presented with the opportunity to click pictures with a background of cute penguins, or maybe while taking a dip in Antarctica.

Neko Harbor

Neko Harbor is the place for all the adventure buffs even though it is a little mysterious to find. However, speaking about Antarctica Wildlife, you will find Kelp Gulls and Skuas along with Gentoo penguins in the area.

They are some of the confirmed breeders in the said region. That is not all, the gigantic snowy glaciers make for a picturesque setup for clicking pictures and taking back home.

Highlights: Visiting Neko Harbor is a very riveting experience since you might witness chunks of glaciers falling down into the water and splashing some on to you. So, our advice to you is to maintain some distance from the shores.

Macquarie Island

Listed under the World Heritage List, Macquarie Island is a wildlife paradise. Uncountable species of seabirds, 100,000 seals, and 4 million penguins visit this tiny subantarctic island regularly.

Some of the species of Antarctica Wildlife breeders are as follows: Elephant seals, Hooker's sea lion, Fir seals, King penguins, Royal penguins, Gentoo penguins, Southern rockhopper penguins, and Albatrosses.

Highlights: Your trip to Antarctica might feel a bit imperfect if Macquarie is not in your itinerary. Unusual mammals like Hooker's sea lion and Royal penguins are one of the many things you must not miss.

Peter I Island

450 kilometers from the continent  Antarctica, it is one of the most remote islands on earth. Peter I was claimed by Norway and yet remains untouched, only a few people might have set their foot here.

There were no wildlife colonies founded here, however, there is a breeding site for southern fulmars and Arctic terns. In fact, Adélie, Chinstrap, and some seal species have been spotted around here.

Highlights: One of the most remote Islands in Antarctica, this place is a must visit. This is the perfect spot to watch various species of seals.

Wildlife & Animals of Antarctica


Antarctic Penguins

One thing that lights our mind when thinking about "Antarctica" are it's penguins. These little creatures are a part of the bird dynasty and are a major attraction of Antarctica Wildlife. Adelie penguins are the types of penguins that outrightly adore to stay near the freezing antarctic coasts during the winters and they depend upon the sea creatures for nutrition.

Gentoo penguins are more like the "lighting McQueens" of the species of penguin, walking briskly is humorously normal for them.

Places to Spot: Adelie penguins are found throughout Antarctica and in the neighbouring islands of the South Orkney and South Sandwich Islands. Gentoo penguins usually breed in sub-Antarctic islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula. Emperor penguins are predominantly found in the Ross Sea and Weddell regions, especially Snow Hill Island.

Antarctic Birds

Wandering Albatrosses are found in Antarctica, they are listed as one of the biggest albatrosses species. That is not all, these fierce birds are a rarity as well, so be thankful when you see them in Antarctica. Moving on to Cape petrels, they often look like ordinary pigeons and usually prefer to make their nests on rocky ledges.

But they are one of the most competitive Antarctic birds while hunting for their food from the ocean waters. Another bird you may have the chance to sight can be Snowy sheathbill, apart from penguins, they are the only bird species in Antarctica to live on land; they are white with usually a salmon colored face, giving them a distinct feature.

Places to Spot: During breeding season, Cape petrels feed around Antarctica's shelf and during the winter they range further north. Pink-faced sheathbills usually make their homes in the sub-antarctic regions.

Antarctic Seals

Ross seals are the ones with big eyes, they are quite bulky and huge, weighing around 150-215 kilograms on an average, and they usually feed on fishes. Wedell seals are one of the most vocal and loudest species of seals in Antarctica, they can weigh around 400 - 600 kilograms.

Elephant seals are ocean-going earless seals, who were on the brink of extinction because of hunting. They too,  feed on fishes and squids and live in one of the most brutally cold regions of Antarctica.

Places to Spot: Sub-antarctic waters are ross, elephant and Weddell seals’ favourite spots. Wedell seals prefer to habituate in darker and colder regions. Leopard seals too are predators in the sub-antarctic waters of Antarctica.

Antarctic Whales

Killer whales predominantly live in the southern ocean, so finding them in Antarctica is not a big deal since they are regularly spotted. Sperm whales or the male sperm whales are way larger than the females, almost double their sizes. They are toothed and have teeth on their lower jaw as well, making them an overwhelming sight.

However, they are not aggressive and have not attacked humans in recent times. Then we have Antarctic blue whales, they are the largest mammals on the planet weighing up to 200 tons (approximately 33 elephants), they are also the loudest one among the lot, louder than a jet engine.

Places to Spot: Antarctic blue whales usually live in the waters of South Georgia, near Antarctica, while sei whales occupy the northern waters of the continent. Sperm whales migrate to  South Georgia and South Shetland whaling stations in December and March and return to sub-Antarctic and subtropics in autumn.

Snow Petrels

Snow petrels are small birds as white as snow and survive on krill, fishes and squids. They can live up to 15 - 20 years. Blue petrels are seabirds accompanying ships and cruises usually, they are smaller in size as compared to others.

They are white from underside and bluish-grey from the top and are not easily found in the wide sky. Lastly, we have Grey petrel, a large seabird with dashes of grey, white, and brown all over its body - making it a beautiful sight to catch.

Places to Spot: Snow petrels are often associated with pack ice, icebergs and ice floes in the antarctic waters. Cape petrels on the other hand feed around Antarctica's shelf and during the winter they range further north. While blue petrels are the southernmost seabirds of the continent.

People Also Ask About Antarctica

  1. How to reach Antarctica from India?

    From India, Antarctica is more likely to be reachable from Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America or from New Zealand (more unlikely). You could also fly from South America and then take a cruise ship in Antarctica. This journey is more preferable in terms of cost and transport even though Australia and New Zealand is closer to India.
  2. What is the best time to visit Antarctica for spotting wildlife?

    The best time to visit the White Continent is during it's summer season, that is from November to March. This time period is recommended since it is also the breeding period of the species and your experience becomes more lively in terms of wildlife in Antarctica.
  3. How many species of animals live in Antarctica?

    The coldest and driest region of earth is a home to 235 animal species in total, including variations of penguins, whales, seals, sea lions, seabirds and invertebrates.
  4. Which is the main wild animal of Antarctica?

    Leopard seals are one of the primary predators in this region and live up to its name. They can survive for 15 years in the wild and are fierce animals.
  5. Are there wolves in Antarctica?

    There are wolves in the Arctic region but not in the Antarctic. So, you can take a breath of relief since you will not encounter them along your journey.
  6. Are there any land animals in Antarctica?

    There are no natural fully terrestrial mammals, reptiles, or amphibians from Antarctica. However, human activity in some regions has introduced foreign land animals such as, cats, dogs, chicken, rabbits, mice, pigs and etc in certain areas. With all the necessary information at hand, Antarctica wildlife might seem more welcoming to you!
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