marine, seal on ice

Wildlife

South Georgia acts as a sub-Antarctic oasis for wildlife, a haven on the edge of the inhospitable waters of the Antarctic. The island is placed close to the Antarctic convergence, where the warmer Northern waters and cold Antarctic tides collide, creating a bounty of Antarctic krill for the island's mammals to feed on.

Despite South Georgia's remoteness and the richness of life in its surrounding waters, the island's wildlife has had to deal with many threats, many of which were and are man-made.

  • Entanglement and/or capture in fishing gear outside South Georgia waters; this is particularly the case for albatrosses, which travel great distances for food. South Georgia's fisheries are carefully managed to avoid incidental bird catches.
  • Illegal or unregulated fishing could compete with marine predators, such as South Georgia's bird and mammal communities. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) seeks to protect Antarctica's eco-systems by regulating fishing quotas. GSGSSI invests heavily in Fishery Protection patrols and other forms of surveillance.
  • Habitat disturbance and destruction of tussac grasslands by a dramatic increase in the Antarctic fur seal population from a few 1,000 to over 3 million in the past 60 years. Introduced reindeer have over grazed large areas. The combination has opened up dense tussac and has provided greater access to skuas predating storm petrels, Antarctic prions and blue petrels.
  • The brown rat was accidentally introduced by sealers in the early 1800 and has been responsible for the most significant widespread destruction of birds at South Georgia taking eggs and young chicks from burrowing petrels and the South Georgia Pipit. Most of these species now breed on overcrowded rat free offshore islands.