Month: April 2024

A guide to wildlife in Antarctica

Antarctica Tecla Emperor Penguin

Despite being formidable and foreboding, the wildlife in Antarctica is rich and diverse. Whilst not home to any fully terrestrial animals, the icy continent is one of the world’s top wildlife watching destinations with eight species of penguins, seals, whales and even the graceful albatross to keep eyes peeled for as you explore. Life completely flourishes in this extreme climate, with some species existing nowhere else on earth and sailing in Antarctica is the best way to experience it.


When we think about the wildlife in Antarctica, penguins undoubtedly spring to mind. Over eight of the world’s penguin species can be found here from gentoo to the king, emperor and rockhopper. Completely acrobatic and agile in the water, these comical birds are not as comfortable on land with their slightly clumsy antics always a crowd pleaser. Their colonies are noisy, slightly smelly but absolutely enchanting, their bright beaks a welcome burst of colour amidst the icy whites and blues. With over 12 million penguins calling Antarctica home, penguins will invariably be the one animal you see during your time here. 

South Georgia Island King Penguin Tecla

Watching whales is the top of many a wishlist with their presence luring visitors to Antarctica each year. Choose to visit in March and you’re in with a better chance as this is when ice begins to form in the bays, sheltering krill underneath. It is here the whales accumulate to feed which makes them easier to track.

There are several species of whales to spot including the fin, humpback, minke, orca and even the blue. The crystal clear waters here make for magical sightings so be sure to keep watching for the occasional spray spouting from blowholes or listen out for the calls between mother and calves. With the snow covered mountains as your backdrop, whale watching here is unforgettable. 


If you’re keen to tick off all the wildlife in Antarctica then make sure seals are on your list. Incredibly photogenic, these cumbersome creatures transform in the water, flexing with the flow of the water. Species to watch for are the Weddell, crab eater, fur and the solitary leopard seal. If you are really lucky you’ll be treated to an elephant seal too, lollicking or play fighting together. 

Antarctic seal Tecla sailing

Eyes to the skies will also be richly rewarded. The clear, often desolate skies here are a great place to see rare birds in Antarctica. The wandering albatross may swoop alongside as we sail whilst shearwaters, petrels, cormorants, skuas, gulls, terns, shags and many more are often spotted diving for fish. Truly lucky bird watchers will spot the Pink-faced Sheatbill, the only native bird species in Antarctica.

Scotland St Kilda Birds

Sailing on board Tecla is the perfect way to watch for wildlife in Antarctica as she sails silently across the waters, leaving little in her wake. Adopting a ‘they come to us’ policy, all wildlife watching is undertaken in a totally responsible way and standing on her sturdy deck provides one of the best vantage points to soak up the sights. 

So if seeing wildlife in Antarctica sounds amazing (because it is), take a look at Tecla’s schedule and book your venture to the ends of the earth!