Snowy Sheathbill
Snowy Sheathbill

Snowy Sheathbill

Antarctica's only native "land" bird makes a living stealing from penguins

Our Expert Says… "Although often seen as a land bird, that's just an honorary title! It's very much ancestrally a seabird in the same way that gulls are. These are very curious and very forward birds, even landing on the side of Zodiacs and kayaks - or indeed on people's heads! Unfortunately, they produce copious quantities of guano and seem to like 'emptying the tanks' very frequently, so you might want to discourage any from perching too close!"

The snowy sheathbill is the only native Antarctic land bird and can be found in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the South Orkney Islands.

What you will see
Highlights
Our trips

Pictures of Snowy Sheathbill

Snowy Sheathbill

Highlights where the Snowy Sheathbill can be seen

Whalers Bay

Whalers Bay is a small natural harbor on Deception Island, one of the South Shetland Islands. An active volcano, the crater forms a natural sheltered inlet that was historically used by sealers and then whalers from the 1820s. The geography makes it a perfect place for ships to shelter in rough weather, and Whaler’s Bay contains some of the most significant whaling artifacts and remains to be found in the whole of Antarctica. As your ship sails through the narrow “break” in the volcanic caldera known as Neptunes Bellows, the wide, circular beach of Whaler’s Bay is found to the right. The beach runs uninterrupted for one and a quarter miles and was used as a runway in the 1950s and 1960s when the site was the main hub of British Antarctic air movements. The hangar that was built in 1960 can be visited at the northern end of the beach where you can also see a roller that was used to maintain the runway. At the southern end of the beach are large, rusted oil tanks, and behind them are buildings from the period 1906 to 1931. There was a significant whaling industry here, with the sheltered and shallow beach making it an ideal place to land whale carcasses and process them. While you explore all this remarkable human history, please remember that you are standing on an active volcano! The instruments you may see around the beach in the Whalers Bay area are seismic monitors, and the island is monitored for activity 24 hours a day. The last eruption was in 1969, and this was responsible for some of the mudflows and damage to the buildings and metal tanks that you see here. The penguins don’t seem to be worried, though! Chinstraps and Gentoos can always be seen along the beach here, and it’s not unusual to encounter fur seals who have hauled out to rest and watch the humans. There are also plenty of Antarctic seabirds to see, including petrels, skuas, Antarctic terns, and kelp gulls.

Our trips to spot the Snowy Sheathbill

Price
Minimum Price

USD 4400

Maximum Price

USD 18000

Duration (days)
Minimum Days

5

Maximum Days

26

Sort by

Price (low to high)