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Antarctic Wildlife

Hordes of animals live peacefully in this pristine white wilderness

Every creature which lives in Antarctica is an extremophile: it has evolved to be able to survive - and even thrive - in a climate which is extremely dry and extremely cold. Once you get below the sea ice, the waters of the Antarctic are a little warmer than the islands, but they are still an exceptionally tough place to live. In spite of the challenges, 235 species have been recorded here, and more than 100 million birds nest on Antarctica’s rocky shores every spring.

The highlight for any wildlife lover in Antarctica is going to be spotting penguin, of which 18 species live and breed on the mainland and offshore islands. The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest, but arguably the most impressive sight, on account of the sheer number of birds, are the colonies of king penguins. In South Georgia, single colonies can number 150,000 pairs.
 
There are mammals in Antarctica, too. Dolphin and whale inhabit the cold waters, and various seal and sea lion slip between the waters and the shore. The leopard and ross seal live solitary lives while the other species breed in harems on the beaches.