Field Guides to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean: what to take into the field

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This blog was updated on 19 March 2024


antarctic wildlife

A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife (Shirihai, 2008). This is the second edition, and, as the name implies, it is very complete. All the bird species from 30 degrees latitude south are covered in this guide. Many of the smaller islands are also covered, and if you are anywhere else on the Southern Ocean this will also help. The information is very detailed and complete, with excellent range maps. The impressive illustrations are supplemented by many top-quality photographs which further help aid identification.

Field guides to Antarctica

Seabirds: The New Identification Guide (Harrison, 2021). This is the long-awaited 2021 update of Peter Harrison’s 1983 seabird identification guide which set the standard for seabird identification guides. The updated edition is a massive improvement from the original (which was now a bit dated) and covers all seabird groups, from albatrosses to storm petrels and ducks to pelicans. The illustrations are fantastic (and include many known subspecies) and are arranged opposite the incredibly detailed range maps and informative text.


Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World (Onley and Scofield, 2007). This is one of the best pelagic bird identification guides around. The illustrations are good however the maps and text are not arranged opposite the plates which makes it a little less user-friendly.

Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Antarctic Peninsula (Couve and Vidal, 2003). A useful photographic guide to take with you on an Antarctic trip. The photographs are good with many used for each species, although some of the pelagic species’ photographs could be improved! The species accounts are detailed, and the maps are well done. In our opinion the best field guide to take along when visiting the Falklands and South Georgia, as very few guides actually cover the terrestrial species of the area.

Field Guide to the Animals and Plants of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island (Ryan, 2007). This neat little guide is the only bird guide to the South Atlantic islands of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island. It covers all the wildlife and plants of the archipelago and has detailed information on all the bird species here, including vagrants.

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