The following is a list of native wild mammal species recorded in Antarctica. There are 23 mammal species in Antarctica, all of which are marine. Three are considered endangered, one is vulnerable, eight are listed as data deficient, and one has not yet been evaluated.[1] Domesticated species, such as the dogs formerly present,[2] are not included.

The following tags are used to highlight each species' conservation status as assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature; those on the left are used here, those in the second column in some other articles:

EX Extinct No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.
EW Extinct in the wild Known only to survive in captivity or as a naturalized population well outside its historic range.
CR Critically endangered The species is in imminent danger of extinction in the wild.
EN Endangered The species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
VU Vulnerable The species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
NT Near threatened The species does not qualify as being at high risk of extinction but is likely to do so in the future.
LC Least concern The species is not currently at risk of extinction in the wild.
DD Data deficient There is inadequate information to assess the risk of extinction for this species.
NE Not evaluated The conservation status of the species has not been studied.

Order: Carnivora (carnivorans)

Infant Antarctic fur seal
Bull southern elephant seals
Leopard seal
Weddell seal
Crabeater seal

There are over 260 species of carnivorans, the majority of which feed primarily on meat. They have a characteristic skull shape and dentition. The southern elephant seal is believed to be the largest carnivoran of all time; bulls typically weigh 2,200 to 4,000 kilograms (4,900 to 8,800 pounds). The lobodontine seals comprise about 80% of the global biomass of pinnipeds, a reflection of the high productivity of the Southern Ocean; all have circumpolar distributions surrounding Antarctica and breed on pack ice or shore-fast ice. Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals, in contrast, while doing much of their feeding at the edge of the continent, breed on subantarctic islands, such as South Georgia. Warmblooded prey makes up a significant proportion of the leopard seal's diet, and is occasionally taken by Antarctic fur seals.

Order: Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises)

Southern right whale
Blue whale
Humpback whale lunge feeding in Fournier Bay
Sperm whale
Hourglass dolphin

The infraorder Cetacea includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. They are the mammals most fully adapted to aquatic life with a spindle-shaped nearly hairless body, protected by a thick layer of blubber, and forelimbs and tail modified to provide propulsion underwater. Their closest extant relatives are the hippos, which are artiodactyls, from which cetaceans descended; cetaceans are thus also artiodactyls.

The hunting of baleen whales in the vicinity of Antarctica began around 1904, with the establishment of a whaling station on South Georgia. Hunting of blue whales was banned in 1966, and finally brought under control in the 1970s. By that time the blue whale population had been reduced to 0.15% of its original size.[3] Whaling for other species in the Southern Hemisphere was banned in 1976.[4] Numbers have recovered somewhat since, but the largest species remain endangered.

See also


  1. ^ The list is derived from the IUCN Red List which lists species of mammals and includes those mammals that have recently been classified as extinct (since 1500 AD). The taxonomy and naming of the individual species is based on those used in existing Wikipedia articles as of 21 May 2007 and supplemented by the common names and taxonomy from the IUCN, Smithsonian Institution, or University of Michigan where no Wikipedia article was available.
  2. ^ William J. Mills (2003). Exploring Polar Frontiers: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 189–192. ISBN 978-1-57607-422-0. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  3. ^ Branch, T. A.; Matsuoka, K.; Miyashita, T. (2004). "Evidence for increases in Antarctic blue whales based on Bayesian modelling". Marine Mammal Science. 20 (4): 726–754. doi:10.1111/j.1748-7692.2004.tb01190.x.
  4. ^ IWC (1995). "Report of the scientific committee". Reports of the International Whaling Commission. 45: 53–221.