Animals in Antarctica

Below you can find a complete list of Antarctican animals. We currently track 15 animals in Antarctica and are adding more every day!

Antarctica is a frigid polar continent located at the bottom of the world. Its nearest continental neighbors are Australia and South America, but these lands have little in common with Antarctica in terms of habitat and biodiversity.

Because of its little rainfall, Antarctica is considered a frozen desert. Most of its wildlife are extremophiles – rare organisms well-adapted to live in environments in which most of Earth’s creatures would find it difficult to survive. Among the most recognizable of Antarctica’s wildlife are penguins, leopard seals, and killer whales.

Even more diverse animals live on the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands, which have a milder climate than Antarctica itself. Keep reading to learn facts about the wild and wonderful animals that call Antarctica home.

The Official National Animal of Antarctica

The penguin is the national symbol of Antarctica. Eight species of penguins live in Antarctica, and no one is designated as the national animal. Rather, the penguin family as a whole symbolizes this rugged continent.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Antarctica

Antarctica’s animals are mostly found along the cost.

The Most Dangerous Animals In Antarctica Today

Leopard seals and orcas are the most dangerous animals to inhabit Antarctica. Pods of orcas can take on prey as large as great white sharks and blue whales. It is rare that they attack small boats.

Leopard seals have been known to strike out at or bite photographers, sightseers, or divers who got too close. As with orcas, this is rare and leopard seals are not normally dangerous to humans – so long as we keep our distance.

Endangered Animals

Half of the world’s penguin species are endangered of becoming extinct, including the iconic emperor penguin. Many albatross species and a bird called Abbott’s booby are also endangered. The Amsterdam albatross and Tristan albatross are considered critically endangered of becoming extinct.

Among the cetaceans, the sei whale, blue whale, and fin whale are endangered of becoming extinct.

What causes Antarctica’s animals to be endangered? Pollution, climate change, and overfishing are the biggest risk factors. Rats also prey on the eggs of many seabirds. Because Antarctica was separated from the rest of the world for so long, its ecosystems are especially susceptible to the changes brought about by humans.

Antarctican Animals

Adelie Penguin

Eats up to 2kg of food per day!

Chinstrap Penguin

There are 7 million breeding pairs!

Emperor Penguin

The world's largest species of penguin!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Gentoo Penguin

Found throughout the sub-Antarctic!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

King Penguin

More than 2 million breeding pairs!

Leopard Seal

The world's most aggressive seal species!

Macaroni Penguin

Gather in colonies of up to 100,000 members!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Penguin

Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Rockhopper Penguin

There are 3 different species!

Royal Penguin

Can reach speeds of 20mph!

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Antarctican Animals List

Animals in Antarctica FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where in the World is Antarctica?

Antarctica is a polar landmass located at the bottom of the globe. It contains the South Pole. Much of the land there – around 98 percent – is covered in a thick layer of ice and snow. Very few plants can grow there. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was logged in Antarctica – negative 128.9 degrees Fahrenheit, or negative 89.4 degrees Celsius.

What Kinds of Animals Live in Antarctica?

Mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates call Antarctica home.

The southern elephant seal, Antarctic fur seal, crabeater seal, Weddell seal, leopard seal, and Ross seal live in Antarctica, as do six types of baleen whales and four toothed whales.

Migratory seabirds can often be seen near the coast – albatross, skuas, petrels, gulls, terns, and ducks, among others – but penguins are Antarctica’s most famous avian inhabitants. In fact, the emperor penguin, the star of films like March of the Penguins and Happy Feet, is the only animal to have its young inland during the winter.

Antarctic krill, a tiny shrimp, is a keystone species, meaning it is an important basis of the food chain. In summer, vast swarms of krill fill the waters around Antarctica.

Fish common to the region include snailfish, eelpouts, hagfish, lamprey, shates, pearlfish, morid cod, eel cod, gadid cod, horsefish, Antarctic sculpins, triplefins, southern flounder, and cod icefish.

You’ll also find animals on the seafloor, deep below the ice. These include marine snails, worms, starfish, and sea cucumbers.

How Many Animals Live in Antarctica?

Compared to most of the rest of the world, Antarctica is home to few species – around 235 marine species. Facts show that there are eight species of penguins, seven species of seals, ten species of whales, and a few migratory birds and terrestrial invertebrates. Many types of fish and invertebrates, however, can be found in the waters surrounding Antarctica. About 320 species of fish have been described.

It is estimated that over 11 million individual penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere. A majority of these spend at least part of their lives in Antarctica. Over 100 million birds nest on Antarctica and its islands each spring. On the seafloor, there can be as many as 155,000 animals within one square meter (about 11 square feet).

Are There Wolves in Antarctica?

Wolves are not native to Antarctica. Sometimes a descendant of wolves – the domestic dog – can be found there, accompanying their human handlers. Sled dogs have been used for transportation in Antarctica.

Do Any Mammals Live in Antarctica?

Yes! Antarctica is home to some of the most fascinating wild mammals in the world. A number of seals live on the coast, and at least ten different types of whales swim through its waters.

Of course, humans – another mammal – also live there year-round in research stations. With them have come rodents, livestock, and other domestic animals.

Are There Any Land Animals in Antarctica?

There are no fully terrestrial native small to large animals – animals that live only on land – in Antarctica. Most animals, like seals and penguins, spend time on land but also rely on the ocean to survive.

Human activity, however, has introduced non-native land animals. Rats, mice, fish, and beetles can be found near human research stations. Humans also keep domestic animals such as chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cows, and reindeer.

There are also endemic insects and arthropods, including mites, springtails, nematodes, spiders, beetles, earthworms, and flies.