Antarctic Bestiary


Animals on the Antarctic Peninsula can be grouped into three main categories.

Marine animals live in the ocean.

This is the largest group of animals in Antarctica and includes both vertebrates and invertebrates. For example:

  • Squid
  • Ice fish and plunder fish
  • Krill
  • Humpback and killer whales
  • Elephant and leopard seals
  • Giant petrels and Antarctic terns
  • Adélie and chinstrap penguins

Are you surprised to see penguins on the list? Even though these birds nest on land, they spend most of their lives (and get all of their food) from the sea. Click here to see videos of marine animals.


Freshwater animals live in small pools and lakes.

The freshwater animals of Antarctica are all invertebrates less than 1” (2 cm) long. For example:

  • Copepods (tiny crustaceans)
  • Nematodes (round worms)
  • Fairy shrimp


Terrestrial animals live on land.

Like the animals in freshwater habitats, the terrestrial animals of the Peninsula are all invertebrates. For example:

  • Belgica antarctica (our favorite!)
  • Mites
  • Ticks
  • Springtails
  • Tardigrades (“water bears”)

Click here to learn about adaptations of terrestrial invertebrates on the Peninsula.