Cool Creatures: Common Animals That Live In Antarctica

Anamika Balouria
Nov 18, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Oct 09, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Penguin Group leaping into Ocean Antarctica.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

The penguins in Antarctica are very famous as they include the world's largest and most beautiful penguins.

There are many unknown animals here that are very different from the other animals around the world. It is just due to the harsh and cold climatic conditions in which these animals of the Antarctic Peninsula live. 

Antarctica near the South Pole is known for its freezing temperatures and cold winds. It is a white desert covered with snow and ice, surrounded by icebergs.

It would be really unbelievable if any creature were to survive in such climatic conditions.

There are animal species that are so well adapted to the cold climatic conditions that they can live there without migrating from one place to another. The animals who survive the ice-cold water are birds such as skua, petrel, and other animals such as blue whales, orcas, seals, and penguin species.

The emperor penguin is the world's largest penguin species. Many a time, wolves and polar bears are confused about living in the Antarctic region, but these species live in the Arctic region and not the Antarctic region.

You must have got an idea that the Arctic and Antarctic regions have different flora and fauna. They also have different climatic conditions which are harsher in the Antarctic region compared to the Arctic region.

If you enjoyed reading this article about animal species in Antarctica, then do read some interesting and surprising fun facts about animals in the Arctic and animals in the Taiga.

What animal only lives in Antarctica?

The list of animals that live in Antarctica is not big nor too small. Animals like the emperor penguin, Antarctic krill, blue whale, elephant seal, Weddell seals, Antarctic fur seal, Antarctic snow petrel, South Polar skua, orca (killer whale), and albatross can be found in Antarctica.

The wildlife of the Antarctica Peninsula is very harsh and only a few are able to survive in those climatic conditions. Only icy islands, icebergs, and a snow desert can be seen all around the Antarctica Peninsula.

The animals living there must have adapted themselves to the environment of sea ice. The average temperature of the Antarctica Peninsula is always minus degrees along with harsh cold winds, which really make it difficult for animals to live on the continent.

Seals such as leopard seals, Weddell seals, elephant seals, and fur seals coexist on sea ice with other animals such as emperor penguins, chinstrap penguins, and birds such as the South Polar skua, snow petrel, and albatross.

Antarctic water animals such as blue whales, killer whales (orcas), krill, and fish squid have great adaptability because of their ancient cold climate evolution.

The breeding season changes throughout the year and seals are often seen breeding during the months of November and December, such as elephant seals in South Georgia. Some colonies of emperor penguins are found in South Georgia, feeding on fish, squid, and krill.

The animals living in Antarctica are known to have thick insulated skin which provides them with heat and protects them from the cold climatic environment of the continent.

Marine Animals That Live In Antarctica

The marine animals that live in Antarctica include killer whales, blue whales, fish, squid, and Antarctic krill. Apart from them, seals such as leopard seals, Weddell seals, elephant seals, and fur seals coexist on sea ice, as well as, under Antarctic waters.

The most dangerous marine animal species of the Antarctic Peninsula are orcas, also known as killer whales, along with leopard seals. Orcas are members of the family of dolphins and are categorized as toothed mammals.

They are usually found swimming in groups called pods. Similar to dolphins, orcas are also known to use sound waves. They feed on anything around them for food, including small birds, fish, squid, and other Antarctic animal species.

The leopard seal preys on other species of animals in the Antarctic Peninsula. The seal is categorized as ferocious because they have strong jaws and teeth.

They have a fur coat on their body to protect themselves from the cold and harsh climate. They prey on penguin colonies for food. The penguin species are majorly targeted by predators for their food due to their large number of groups called a waddle.

Apart from that, they forage for food like birds, fish, and squid krill. The leopard seal has the natural ability to hear from inside though they do not have any ear flaps.

Krill are also found in Antarctic waters. They are very small in size, so they might go unnoticed by many around them.

They feed on phytoplankton, whereas, the largest animal species, the blue whale, feed on these tiny marine species for food. They have a body structure like that of a shrimp and help to maintain the aquatic water ecology of the Southern Ocean by becoming energy fuel for other animals.

Blue whales are the largest animals that live on Earth and weigh tons. They swim in the deep seawater of the southern continent's marine wildlife and can often be seen on the sea surface when they need to breathe air. Also, because many small organisms are attached to their underbellies, they start to appear yellow in color.

The elephant seal is known to breed on land but spends most of its time in the water. They even molt their fur on land.

They can also be categorized among marine animal species. The fur seal is sexually dimorphic and male seals are much larger than the female seals. They have a brown-colored fur coat on their bodies and are found on the islands of South Georgia, South Shetland, and South Orkney.

Weddell seals are known for their cute faces and white fur bodies with black eyes and whiskers. They mate from the months of September to December.

A few marine fish species are found in the Southern Ocean such as cod icefish and Antarctica silverfish. Small invertebrates such as bivalves and mollusks are also found on the seafloor. Apart from these, the fungi of the Southern Ocean continent are not diverse in comparison to other parts of the world.

Crabeater seal in Antarctica.

Land Animals That Live In Antarctica

The most common land animals found in Antarctica are species of penguins and seals. However, penguins are the most well-known land animals.

Penguins are well known throughout the world for their waddle and colonies. They are very social creatures on Antarctica's island. Mostly, penguins are found either in the South Sea or near the South Georgia shores, along with seals. The species of penguins found here are emperor penguins, king penguins, chinstrap penguins, Adelie penguins, macaroni penguins, and gentoo penguins.

Antarctica emperor penguins are known to be the world's largest penguins, living in the coldest climatic conditions and often live in waddles in order to warm themselves and protect themselves from the harsh climatic conditions. The emperor penguin usually breeds during the month of December.

Adelie penguins are called true penguins of Antarctica because they live the whole of their lives in the harsh climatic conditions of a particular place.

They can easily be recognized by the white circle around their eyes. They breed during the months of October to February.

The king penguin is beautiful penguin species because of the yellow-orange color around the head and neck. They are the second-largest penguins in the world.

They are found on the South Georgia island and the male is known to incubate the eggs laid. Chinstrap penguins are the most territorial and dramatic penguin species who fight for the nest and wait for the female arrival for a week. If a female does not come, then they look for another mating partner.

They can easily be recognized by their black beard-like face. A new baby can be seen from the month of December to February.

Macaroni penguins are found in the South Georgia islands and are known for their yellow-colored eyebrows. They are known for their aggressive behavior and often fight for territory with other males.

Gentoo penguins are distinguished by their orange beaks and hunt for birds, fish, squid, and krill. They spend most of their time hunting for food and are found in the Falkland Islands, part of the Antarctic Peninsula.

There are also small land invertebrates found on the islands of the Antarctic Peninsula, such as Belgica antarctica, mites, and springtails. Springtails are now endemic and most of the land invertebrates reside in sub-Antarctic islands, not in the main islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. Earthworms, spiders, beetles, and flies are also found in the Antarctic islands.

How do animals survive in Antarctica?

The animals living in Antarctica, such as birds, invertebrates, whales, seals, and penguins, are so well adapted to the natural environment that no other animal could thrive there. It is just the way they have evolved themselves to live in such an environment.

Most of the animals living in the Southern Ocean and islands have thick skin on their bodies to protect themselves from the cold wind and ice-freezing temperatures. Their skin acts as an insulated coat for them.

If you look at the survival ways of penguins, then it would really be astonishing. They live in a large number or group called a waddle. If found on land or underwater, they are called a raft of penguins.

This is a survival technique of penguins to help them thrive in harsh climatic conditions. When they stay in groups, which vary from 100-1000 in number, they provide them with heat, as well as, protection from predators such as seals on land and killer whales underwater.

Krill found in the underwater of ice slabs or sea can live without food for up to 200 days, and they are called the fuel of the underwater ecological system.

Birds are known to migrate during the winter. The seals are known to have thick blubber skin which has dual functions, such as working as an insulator and storing food.

Some seals are known to have fur which protects them while they live on land during the breeding season and others do not. Every animal has its own chance of survival through the harsh climatic conditions of Antarctica.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals that live in Antarctica, then why not take a look at animals in Alaska, or animals that hibernate.

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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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