Health of Antarctic Wildlife: An Introduction



Human occupation of the Antarctic continent commenced in February 1899 with the arrival of the Southern Cross Expedition to establish the first winter camp at Cape Adare. The wintering party comprised 10 men and 75 sledge dogs. Until that time, Antarctica had been isolated by the vast encircling Southern Ocean. Following the Southern Cross expedition, there was a steady stream of expeditions to locations around the Antarctic Continent during what was known as the ‘heroic era’ of Antarctic exploration. Each expedition took with them animals in the service of man, many brought dogs and Scott brought ponies. Cats and caged birds were brought as pets, and on one Antarctic station pigs were maintained for food. The introduction of alien species of mammals and birds continued with little thought given to micro-organisms, including agents of disease, they might carry and introduce to the native wildlife. Geographic exploration was a main driving force for expeditions, but each was supported by a base located on or close to the coast. These for the most part were located close to large concentrations of seals and sea birds. Little care was taken in the disposal of food waste and so discarded chicken carcases, eggs and meat and other items were added to the diet of scavenging skuas.


Infectious Bursal Disease Virus Canine Distemper Virus Leopard Seal Antarctic Environment Penguin Coloni 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Antarctic DivisionChannel HighwayKingstonAustralia

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