Animals That Live in Antarctica

Animals That Live in Antarctica
Antarctica is such a desolate and forbidding place that no large land mammals exist there. The wildlife consists of a number or species of seabirds, penguins and marine mammals that depend on the abundant life in the surrounding oceans as a source of food. These Antarctic animals include different kinds of seals and whales along with a bird that many think of when considering this part of the world.

Antarctic Birds

The albatross is one of the seabirds that live in Antarctica part of the year. The wandering albatross, which has a wingspan of 11 feet and can live as long as 80 years, is one species. The gray-headed, southern royal and yellow-nosed albatross are other Antarctic albatrosses. Other seabirds include the highly predatory skuas as well as cormorants, petrels, gulls, terns and fulmars. The animal most associated with Antarctica is the penguin, a flightless bird that lives on land and in water, with some staying in the ocean as much as 3/4 of the time. Only four species breed on the Antarctic mainland---the adelie, emperor, gentoo and chinstrap penguins. The macaroni penguin, the species with the largest population of all the penguins, exists on the many islands around Antarctica.

Antarctic Seals

The number of seals in the Antarctic is considerably higher than at the North Pole because of the availability of more food. The leopard seal is one of these species, a predator that can weigh 750 lbs. and dines on krill, penguins, fish and other seals. The largest Antarctic seal is the southern elephant seal, which can be 20 feet long and weigh thousands of pounds. The fur seal population in Antarctica is an estimated 4 million individuals according to the Antarctic Connection website. Other seals of this region include the Weddell seal, the crabeater seal and the Ross seal.

Antarctic Whales

Two types of toothed whales exist in Antarctica's waters. These are the sperm whale and the killer whale. Killer whales are the dolphin family's largest member, with some capable of being 30 feet in length and weighing as much as 7 tons. The sperm whale, a 50-foot long creature, dives to great depths in search of squid, octopus and fish. The baleen whales, species that have structures within their mouths that strain their food from the water, include the 100-foot long blue whale, the largest animal on the planet. Other baleen whales that call Antarctic waters their home at least part of the year are the Sei whale, the humpback whale, the southern right whale, the Minke whale and the fin whale.

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