Flora and Fauna of the South Orkney Islands

Despite their rugged conditions, these islands support a diverse and dynamic ecosystem

Flora and Fauna of the South Orkney Islands

Region: Antarctica

Destinations: South Orkney Islands

South Orkney’s tough tundral flora

Forming part of the Scotia Sea Islands tundra ecoregion, the South Orkney Islands are home to sturdy species of vegetation that flourish in spite of the harsh conditions there. Common tundra plant life like lichens, moss, and algae grow in abundance on these islands, which are supported in part by the nutrient-rich ecosystem of cold water below the Antarctic Convergence.

The feathered fauna of the South Orkney Islands

Several small colonies of Adélie, gentoo, and chinstrap penguins live on the stony beaches or among the lower cliffs of the South Orkneys. Cape petrels and snow petrels also breed in the crags of the steep rock walls, and fur seals frequently claim the remaining patches of coastline. Additionally, it is not uncommon to spot whales in the surrounding South Orkney waters as well.

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