• Home
  • Blog
  • How Arctic Wildlife Differs from Antarctic

How Arctic Wildlife Differs from Antarctic

by Cindy Trillo Blog

While there are definite similarities between the north and south poles, at the same time, the two regions are vastly different. Though both are cold and dry, each pole is unique in its terrain and climate. While the Antarctic is harsh and inhospitable, home to only two native vascular species of plants, the Arctic tundra can support a wider range of fauna with its warmer temperatures and a greater diversity of plant life. Here are just some of the different animals that you can expect to see in the Arctic as opposed to the Antarctic.
Antarctic Peninsula

Regions: Antarctica, Arctic

How Arctic Wildlife Differs from Antarctic

While there are definite similarities between the north and south poles, at the same time, the two regions are vastly different. Though both are cold and dry, each pole is unique in its terrain and climate. While the Antarctic is harsh and inhospitable, home to only two native vascular species of plants, the Arctic tundra can support a wider range of fauna with its warmer temperatures and a greater diversity of plant life. Here are just some of the different animals that you can expect to see in the Arctic as opposed to the Antarctic.

Animals in the Antarctic

About 98% of the south pole is covered in ice, making it difficult for life to survive on the majority of the continent. A lack of rivers and vegetation also makes the region fairly inhospitable, but it is still possible to view wildlife if you know where to look. Along warmer coastlines, densely populated colonies are able to thrive. There are very few herbivores thanks to the limited plant life, but there are plenty of creatures that feed in the sea and live on land. The most common Antarctic animals include: 

  • Emperor Penguins: The world’s largest penguin, this behemoth can stand up to four feet tall and weighs up to 90 pounds.
  • Southern Elephant Seals: These are also the largest of their kind. With males weighing up to 8,000 pounds and measuring as long as 15 feet, these beasts are bigger than any other seal.
  • Leopard Seals: These fierce predators are known for their distinctive spotted appearance and feed on fish, penguins, and even seal pups.

Life on the Arctic Tundra

Unlike the Antarctic, the Arctic is able to support a wide range of flora and fauna. This is thanks to the fact that instead of a sheet of ice, much of the region is covered in permafrost instead. This is a thick layer of subsurface layer of frozen soil, and while it prevents some plants from growing, many others are able to thrive in this environment. The tundra is treeless, but the land is home to almost 2,000 species of smaller shrubs, sedges, grasses, mosses and liverworts as well as alpine type flowering plants and lichens. There are also rivers that flow through the region to help support life. Thanks to its more forgiving climate, the Arctic boasts a very different range of animals than the Antarctic, including: 

  • Polar Bears: The largest bear on the planet, Polar bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and feed mostly on seal populations.
  • Musk Ox: These grazing animals have been nearly wiped out by hunting, but there are still small populations in the Arctic tundra.
  • Reindeer: Like Musk Ox, Reindeer live on the tundra, but they travel great distances throughout the year.
  • Narwhal: This mythical-looking creature has a single horn on its snout for defense and feeds on fish, squid, and shrimp.

The North Pole and the South Pole, while similar in some ways, differ in many others. The Antarctic is cold and unforgiving, home only to the hardiest of sea mammals, while the Arctic can support more herbivores and land-based wildlife. Despite the extreme conditions at the ends of the Earth, you can still find an impressive level of biodiversity waiting around every corner.

Photo credit Noah Holm / Unsplash 

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Cool Deal
Falkland Islands Exclusive
Up to 1950 USD discount

Falkland Islands Exclusive

Discover the secret wildlife treasures of the Falklands

OTL21-18. The Falkland Islands cruise delivers you to the secret wildlife treasures of the Southern Hemisphere. Combining Argentinian and European cultures, the Falklands are home for multiple species of birds including Magellanic, Gentoo, and Rockhopper penguins.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

29 Oct - 7 Nov, 2018

Price:

5600 USD 3650 USD 1950 USD discount

Cool Deal
Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica
Up to 2550 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

Meet at least six penguin species!

HDS21-19. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals!

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2019

Price:

12500 USD 9950 USD 2550 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands
Up to 1450 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands

Classic Antarctica including Deception Island

PLA22-18. This Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands cruise delivers you into a landscape of dark rugged rock, pure white snow, and a fantastic variety of wildlife. Come say hello to whales, seals, and thousands of penguins.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

23 Nov - 3 Dec, 2018

Price:

10650 USD 9200 USD 1450 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula
Up to 2500 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula

Meet at least six penguin species

PLA23-18. This Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula cruise is an animal-lover’s dream come true. The expedition explores one of the last untamed areas on Earth – a land of ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

3 Dec - 22 Dec, 2018

Price:

19150 USD 16650 USD 2500 USD discount

Around Spitsbergen - Kvitøya

Full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation with a visit to Kvitøya

PLA14-18. This cruise around Spitsbergen gives you a great chance to see whales, foxes, reindeer, seals, and polar bears. The expedition will make a landing on the island of Kvitøya, a site of historical significance, and home of a large walrus population.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

20 Aug - 29 Aug, 2018

Price:

8850 USD