Animal Travels: Antarctica

Antarctica is over 5 million square miles and has some extremely well adapted species living there!

There are six species of penguin that call Antarctica home.

  1. Aptenodytes_forsteri_-Snow_Hill_Island,_Antarctica_-adults_and_juvenile-8.jpgEmperor Penguin
    (Aptenodytes forsteri)
    Near Threatened
    595,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild with no current major threats.
  2. 152708-004-5B3C83E2.jpgChinstrap Penguin
    (Pygoscelis antarcticus)
    Least Concern
    Declining population trend can be attributed to threats from recent volcanic activity, human disturbances of breeding colonies and the harvesting of Antarctic krill which makes up the bulk of their diet.
  3. gentoopenguin.jpgGentoo Penguin
    (Pygoscelis papua)
    Least Concern
    774,000 mature individuals.
    Major threats come from the collection of eggs and disturbances from tourism which decrease breeding productivity.
  4. main-qimg-84bebfb4702b4086740772ded2d31fd8-c.jpegAdelie Penguin
    (Pygoscelis adeliae)
    Least Concern
    7580,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild and an increasing population trend.
    Their major threats come from climate change, the building of research stations which change their habitat and from the disturbance from tourists and scientists.
  5. Right-Whale-Bay-King-Penguin-1.jpgKing Penguin
    (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
    Least Concern
    Increasing population trend but faces threats from increasing sea temperatures, disturbance from helicopter flights which causes breeding failure; and disturbances from scientists and tourists.
  6. Macaroni_penguin.jpgMacaroni Penguin
    Eudyptes chrysolophus)
    Decreasing population trend which has faced major threats from commercial fishing, the warming of oceans, disturbance from scientists and tourists. Also increasing numbers of Fur Seal is leading to increased predation.

(Orcinus orca)
There are 5 types of Orca in Antarctic waters.

  1. antarctic_type_a.jpgType A
    A very large orca: reaching lengths of up to 31 feet.
    Hunt Minke whales.
  2. Pitman whale and seal.jpgType B Large
    Also known as Pack Ice Orcas.
    Hunt seals and are famous for their “wave-washing” hunting technique.
  3. 17b769b5aef86dc4c15d519f3e4b3f60-nature-animals-wild-animals.jpg
    Type B Small
    Also known as Gerlache Orcas.
    They are believed to feed on penguins.
  4. full_Paul_Ensor__Gateway_Antarctica__University_of_Canterbury_5322_small.jpgType C
    Also known as the Ross Sea Orca.
    They are the smallest orcas reaching lengths of 20 feet.
  5. image_1172_1-killer-whale-type-d.jpgType D
    These are Subantarctic orcas.
    They look different from other orcas and are easily distinguished by their large melon.
    Very little is known about these orcas.

To read more about orcas, you can read my post “All About Killer Whales

Leopard-Seal-1.jpgLEOPARD SEAL
(Hydrurga leptonyx)
Least Concern
18,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

There are no major threats from human activity currently. However, climate change is leading to loss of sufficient pack ice for pupping and resting. There is also becoming less penguins available as prey for the leopard seals.


Click here for more Animal Travels.


Images courtesy of:



All About Killer Whales

Killer Whales have become extremely popular in the media lately due to the very public argument about whether or not they should be kept in captivity or not. This all started when the largest killer whale in captivity, Tilikum, killed a senior trainer at SeaWorld Orlando. Dawn Brancheau’s death started the argument leading to the film Blackfish and several high profile books about killer whales in captivity.

Killer whales (Orcninus orca) are the most widely distributed of all whales and dolphins as they are found in every ocean on the planet. This post is going to explore the lesser known things about the killer whale. For example, many people do not know that there is not just one type of killer whale. There are in fact 10 different ecotypes. These ecotypes have many different characteristics and are all genetically distinct from each other. Many scientists believe that the different ecotypes should actually be classed a subspecies, but this argument is still ongoing.

As I have mentioned the different ecotypes, I’m going to take this opportunity to write about the different ecotypes and what makes them different from each other. In the Northern Hemisphere there are 5 ecotypes. The first three of these can be found in the North Pacific.

Southern Resident Killer Whales
The Resident Orca is a fish specialist which gets its name from its small home range. Residents live in the largest numbers within their pods and within the Residents there are two different communities; the Northern Residents and the Southern Residents. Both of these communities are genetically and acoustically distinct from each other. Because the Residents are fish specialists they are very vocal when hunting. images.jpegFamous Resident: Lolita is the oldest captive killer whale who currently resides at Miami Seaquarium.


The next ecotype in the North Pacific are called Transient Orcas. Transients are mammal eating orcas and travel in much smaller groups than the Residents. Transients are named due to their large home ranges. Due to their diet of mammals Transients are much less vocal when hunting as mammals can also hear sounds on the same wavelength as the killer whales. Again Transient whales are genetically and acoustically distinct from the Residents. tilikum-030816Famous Transient: Tilikum, the largest killer whale that ever lived in captivity, also the whale that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau.

980xThe third ecotype in the North Pacific are the Offshore Orcas. Little is known about the Offshore orcas as they are far from sure and not often seen. However, when they are seen they are usually in large groups with more than 50 individuals. The teeth of Offshore orcas are worn down which suggest that they eat things with rough skin such as sharks. These mysterious orcas are the smallest of the three North Pacific ecotypes.fincomparisonscaled.jpg

tysfjord_2007_84_0Moving onto the North Atlantic ecotypes of which there are two. The first of which is called the North Atlantic Type 1 orca. These small orcas live in closely related pods and eat both fish and mammals. These particular orcas are famous for their tail-slapping method of hunting where they herd fish into a tight ball and then slap the fish with their tails to stun them.

_47034904_eyepatchshotofwestcoasties.jpgThe second ecotype in the North Atlantic is the North Atlantic Type 2 orcas. These orcas prey primarily on whales and dolphins and they are a large orca with back-sloping eye patches.



antarctic_type_a.jpgThe Southern Hemisphere also has 5 different ecotypes. The first of which is the Type A orcas. These are extremely large orcas thats can reach up to 31 feet long and hunt primarily Minke whales.



The Type B killer whales are split into two other ecotypes. There are Type B small orcas and Type B large orcas. The Type B large orcas are also known as Pack Ice orcas. These orcas forage for seals in the loose pack ice and are particularly famous for their co-operative wave washing hunting technique. The Type B small orcas are also known as Gerlache orcas. They are smaller than both the Pack Ice and Type A orcas and are thought to feed on penguins as they are most commonly found around penguin colonies. Both of the Type B orcas appear to have a brown or yellowish hue with a cape of paler colouring.

whales_typecThe fourth ecotype in the Southern Hemisphere is the Type C orca also known as the Ross Sea orca. These are the smallest ecotype of orca reaching a total length of 20 feet. These orcas normally appear grey and white as opposed to black and white and they sometimes have a yellowish hue. The cape of the Ross Sea orca tends to be darker than the rest of the body and they have a dramatically slanted eye patch. Little is known about the diet of the Ross Sea orcas, although it is believed that they eat Antarctic toothfish.

image_1172_1-killer-whale-type-dThe final ecotype of killer whale is called the Type D orca. These are the subantarctic orcas and look dramatically different from the other ecotypes. These orcas are black and white in colouring and they have shorter dorsal fins, rounder heads and the smallest eye patches. Very little is known about these orcas as there have been very few sightings. It is believed that they feed on the Patagonian toothfish.Killer Whale Poster - final.jpg

If you want to know more about killer whales there are plenty of websites online, and if you are interested in captive killer whales I suggest watching the film Blackfish and reading books such as Death at SeaWorld by David Kirkby and Beneath the Surface by John Hargrove.

I hope this post has informed you more about killer whales, if you’d like more information please leave me a comment, and I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge.

Animal Travels: Galapagos

The Galapagos’ Islands are home to a multitude of species, many of which are endemic and so can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Unknown.jpegStarting with the Galapagos’ most famous resident the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. There are currently ten subspecies of Giant Tortoise. The 11th subspecies’ final individual “Lonesome George” died in June 2016. They are best viewed on the islands of Isabela, Santiago, Pinzon and Santa Cruz. All 10 subspecies are now classed as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild by the IUCN Red List.

Cq_SVXbXYAASyaZPerhaps the other most famous residents of the Galapagos are its finches, made famous as Darwin’s Finches and in his research into evolution. There are lots of endemic species of finch on the islands, such as the Ground Finches, Vegetarian Finch and the Tree Finches among others. The finches can be viewed on all the islands depending on which species you are looking for. Luckily, the majority of the Galapagos finches are not threatened of facing any major threats to their numbers.


The Galapagos Penguin is classed as Endangered by IUCN

Moving onto more marine animals. The Galapagos has its own species of penguin, which is one of the smallest species of penguin in the world; and is the only penguin to breed entirely within the tropics. The Galapagos penguins are best viewed on the islands of Santiago, Bartolome, Isabela and Fernandina. Unfortunately, these penguins are facing issues such as introduced species hunting them, oil spills are other human made issues.


Galapagos sharks are Near Threatened

Penguins aren’t the other marine animal that the Galapagos has its own species of. They are also home to the Galapagos shark. These sharks are best viewed around the islands of Floreana and San Cristobal. They are silverly-grey shark with a light underbelly. Humans bait-fishing activities are causing problems for these sharks and their populations are in decline.


americas_galapagos_aggressor_whaleshark2_galleryAlong with the Galapagos shark, the islands are also home to several other shark species such as the Hammerhead sharks and the Whale Shark, which can all be viewed off the coasts of the islands.

imagesca0oqf2z.jpgOne of the biggest draws to the Galapagos islands is for diving wishing to see Manta Rays in all their glory. Mantas are the largest of the rays and are extremely widespread in the Galapagos waters.



The Galapagos Sea Lion is also facing trouble and is classified as ‘Endangered’

The Galapagos also has its fair share of marine mammals. The islands are home to the endemic Galapagos sea lion and the Galapagos fur seal. The sea lions pups are often seen swimming with humans due to their curious nature. The sea lions make their home alone the coasts of the islands. However, the fur seals are much shier and make their home on the rocky shores of the islands.

The waters around the Galapagos islands are also filled with many marine mammals, some are merely visitors, but some are now considered residents.


Animal Travels: Canada

For this weeks Animal Travels, I’m going to explore the wildlife of Canada. Now Canada is a huge country and so getting every single species will be a next to impossible job so I’m going to pick some top Canada species and discuss where you can find them.

First up has got to be the Moose, Canada’s most famous animal. Unknown.jpegThe moose is an extremely large animal, and is definitely not to be tangled with. Moose can be found pretty much all over Canada but at Jasper National Park in Alberta is one of the best viewing locations for moose in the wild.

Next on the wildlife of Canada list is the Mountain Lion or Cougar.mountain-lion-on-snowy-rock Mountain Lions are best viewed on Vancouver Island and probably safest from a distance because even though they may look cute and cuddly they are carnivores.

In Churchill, Manitoba there is a viewing opportunity for two different popular species, but I’d wrap up warm as Churchill is definitely part of the Arctic. Up in Churchill you can see the canaries of the sea, Beluga whales, known as canaries due to their high pitched communication. Unknown-1.jpegAnother animal that you can see plenty of in Churchill are Polar Bears, which are significantly more dangerous than Churchill’s other famous residents. Unknown-2.jpegPolar Bears are in desperate need of conservation help in order to save them from extinction so please if you do want to go and see Polar Bears in the wild, go to a reputable tour company who will be donating some of their proceeds to the protection of the polar bears in the wild.

If bears are your thing you can also head to Gribbell Island and look for Spirit Bears. spirit-bear-on-rock2-1Spirit Bears are actually Kermode Bears which are a rare subspecies of the American Black Bear, and are particularly prominent in the folk stories and legends of Canada.

And to round of the Animal Travels: Canada post, its time to talk about the marine life of Canada. Canada is famous for its harp seals and also the Killer Whales that inhabit its waters. Unknown-3.jpegKiller Whales are best viewed around Vancouver and British Columbia, but perhaps the best viewing you will ever have is at the Gwaii Haanas Marine Conservation Area Reserve.

Harp seals however, are best viewed in Quebec specifically at Iles-de-la-Madeleine. North-Harp-Seal-Watch-1-ice-seal

If anyone is heading to Canada send me a message at or leave me a comment below and I can help provide you will tips or we can just gush over the cuteness of animals together.


Click here for more Animal Travels.