Diseases in Antarctic wildlife

View of the ground littered with penguin carcasses
Penguin deaths

Many factors influence the introduction and spread of diseases in birds and seals in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.

  • Discuss with students what might influence the introduction and spread of diseases in birds and seals in the Antarctic. Possible influences include migration, scavenging, overlap of habitat, discrete or interbreeding populations, tourism, global climate change. For example, the great distances travelled by many of the migratory birds provide lots of opportunity for them to come into contact with disease and the potential for them to act as carriers. Wilson's storm petrels and Antarctic skuas fly from the Antarctic to the northern hemisphere every winter. Arctic terns migrate from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and Tasmanian muttonbirds breed in southeast Australia and feed in the Southern Ocean before heading to the Arctic. What can be done to control the introduction and spread of diseases?
  • Have students research what diseases can be spread from humans to animals.
  • Read the article on disease and Antarctic wildlife.
This page was last modified on January 23, 2014.