Embark on an Adventure and discover Antarctic wildlife with WILDFOOT
See Antarctic animals in their natural environment including over 40 species of birds, many a whale species and a variety of seals. Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic islands and the seas around Antarctica are home to many animals. Antarctic animals and wildlife have had to adapt to life in extremely cold conditions.
- Whales & Dolphins: Humpback, Minke, Orca, Southern Right, Blue, Fin, Sperm, Sei, Southern Bottlenose, Arnoux’s Beaked, Hourglass Dolphin
- Seals: Elephant, Fur, Weddell, Crab Eater, Ross
- Penguins: King, Chinstrap, Gentoo, Emperor, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Macaroni & Adelie
- Other Birdlife: Skua, Petrel, Albatross, Sheathbill, Blue-eyed Shag, South Georgia Pipit, Tern, Fulmar, Gull
The cold waters of the Southern Ocean are rich in plankton and krill, which form the base of the marine food chain, leading to a massive diversity of aquatic life. At all times of the year, whales can be seen and as the Antarctic summer comes to an end, more and more head south to feed. Species that are regularly spotted include sei, blue, minke, humpback, sperm and southern right whales, as well as the ubiquitous orca. There are also several species of seals living in different parts of the region – elephant, fur, crabeater, Weddell, Ross and the predatory leopard. Zodiac excursions and landings enable visitors to come close to all these species. The Southern Ocean supports some 270 species of fish, many of which have glycopeptides in their bloodstream; these act as an anti-freeze agent. Commercial fishing of fish in these waters is actively discouraged by environmental groups and many governments.Learn more
Our Antarctica Cruises offer people the chance to see some of the most fantastic birds in the world. Antarctica includes 46 species of birds, including Albatrosses, Shearwaters and Petrels, Storm-Petrels, Diving petrels, Cormorants, Bitterns, Herons and Egrets, Ducks, Geese and Swans, Sheathbills, Skuas and Jaegers, Gulls, Terns; these too have waterproof feathers on top of downy insulating feathers.Learn more
Probably the best known species of Antarctic animals is the penguin.
The penguins that live on the Antarctic Peninsula have an extremely short breeding season which means that between the time they come ashore, build a nest, lay an egg, hatch a chick and head back to sea for the winter is only about 4 months.
In contrast, the magnificent Emperor Penguin is the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter; it treks 50–120 km (30–75 mls) over the ice to breeding colonies which may include thousands of individuals. The female lays a single egg, which is incubated by the male while the female returns to the sea to forage; parents subsequently take turns foraging at sea and caring for their chick in the colony. The lifespan is typically 20 years in the wild, although some individuals may live to 50 years of age.
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Antarctica Wildlife Expeditions
One of the main attractions of visiting Antarctica is to get close and personal with wildlife, and all expedition cruises offer this opportunity. However, there are certain times of the year when there is a greater concentration of particular species or a better time to view them. For instance, most penguins only lay their eggs in the early spring (November/December), so the best time to see chicks and fledglings is in mid season, although King Penguins colonies on South Georgia include fledging chicks at all times. South Georgia is also the place to see Albatross on the nest, again at any time in the summer. The ubiquitous fur seal also gives birth in the spring, so pups can be seen throughout the summer.
Because birds are in profusion at all times, birdwatching is one of the principal activities on most expedition ships. However, one voyage at the end of the season in March positions from Ushuaia to Europe and offers fantastic birdwatching in Antarctica and the South Atlantic around Tristan da Cuhna, St. Helena and Ascension. Ask for details.
Whales inhabit Antarctic waters throughout the summer and most then move north to warmer waters with the onset of the Antarctic winter. However, they are at their greatest concentration towards the end of the season and a number of expedition companies offer specialist whale watching cruises at this time.
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