Antarctica - Nature and Wildlife
When one thinks of the great deserts of the world, the mind instantly goes to the Sahara or the Kalahari. It therefore often comes as a surprise that despite being almost completely covered in ice, the continent of Antarctica is in fact a desert. Antarctica holds the record for being the coldest place on earth. The amount of ice coupled with a lack of sunlight makes the continent very inhospitable not only for humans, but also for wildlife. As a result, it is the waters that surround Antarctica and not the land that is teeming with wildlife.
The species most commonly associated with Antarctica are penguins. Four different species of penguin inhabit the waters around the continent, they are the Emperor, the Gentoo, the Adéle and the Chinstrap. These penguins spend a great deal of time in the water, however they use Antarctica as a breeding ground. The emperor penguin is the largest of the species and can grow up to a metre tall. These creatures can also dive 500 m (1640 ft) into the ocean when looking for food. There are thirty-eight colonies of Adéle penguins in Antarctica with over five million in the Ross Sea region alone.
Whale species like the fin whale, the humpback whale, minke whale, killer whale and blue whale are all common. Most of the whales in the Southern Ocean are migratory species who feed on krill and small fish in cold waters then head to warmer waters where their calves are born. The waters of the Antarctic are too cold for young calves to survive at the beginning of their lives. The whales then return south during the austral spring.
Other species found in Antarctica’s waters include Leopard and Weddell seals. Leopard seals, named for the small spots on their backs, are one of the largest predators in the Antarctic region. The Weddell seal, with its thick coat, is able to remain under water for an hour. An excellent diver, the Weddell seal spends winter time under the ice, using its sharp teeth to poke holes in the ice for air. This species of seal is abundant on the continent and are the best studied of the Antarctic seals. Without natural predators like polar bears that plague seals in the north, Antarctic seals are not as scared of humans. Antarctic Fur Seals, Crabeater Seals and Ross Seals are also found in the area.
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Antarctica.
Learn about the history of Antarctica and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Antarctica's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Continent Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Antarctica for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Antarctica cruises today!
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