Paulet Island, Antarctica


Paulet Island is a small circular island lying 4.5 km off the north-eastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. A volcanic cone rises over 300 metres from the centre. Geothermal heat from its core keeps parts of the island ice-free year-round. Paulet Island is an Important Bird Area thanks to the huge breeding colony of Adelie penguins, as well as other Antarctic birds such as imperial shag. The sheer number of birds and density of wildlife mean that sometimes the hiking trails are inaccessible as they are taken over as prime nesting spots.

Alongside the wildlife, the island has historical interest. In 1903 a ship on the Nordenskjold expedition – the Antarctica (after which the Antarctic Sound is named) – was crushed by the ice pack, and survivors of the wreck reached Paulet. They built a stone hut to shelter them from the harsh winter conditions and a cairn on the highest point of the island to attract attention for rescue. These structures are still there to this day!

Average rating: 5.0 (very good)

Average cost: getting to this remote and spectacular island is not easy and it is not cheap. The only way to visit is through organised cruises which are likely to start at a minimum of around $12,000.

Best time to visit: the best time to visit Antarctica is from October to March. For the rest of the year, it is pretty much inaccessible for all but the most intrepid of explorers. December and January are usually the prime penguin viewing months.

How to get there: there are no scheduled passenger flights or ferries to or from Paulet Island. Most visits are arranged through cruise liners which typically leave from the southern Patagonian port of Ushuaia and stop off at a number of key spots in the Antarctic region. For more information on arranging a trip to the Antarctic check out this resource.

Typical activities: bird watching, boat trip

Number of reports: 1

Last update: 2022

WILDLIFE IN Paulet Island

According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:

Adelie Penguin – 100% OF wildside users (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

adelie penguins paulet island wildside world wild webThe main reason to visit Paulet Island is the chance to witness the incredible sights and sounds of 100,000 breeding Adelie penguins. You can’t miss the penguins on the island, as they cover pretty much every square inch of land. The island is so densely packed with wildlife that visitors are escorted in small groups by experienced guides. During the peak breeding season, some of the walking routes may be closed due to the sheer number of penguins, and access to the island itself can even be closed if there are significant numbers of fledging penguins on the shore. You can see a video of the penguins of Paulet Island here.

imperial shag – 100% OF wildside users (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

imperial shag paulet island wildside world wild webAlongside the penguins, Paulet Island is also home to large numbers of Antarctic shags. This black and white bird, with distinctive blue eyes, is almost indistinguishable from the Imperial shag and South Georgia shag, and is part of a complex taxonomy of closely related species. Despite the harsh conditions, these birds don’t migrate, staying put throughout summer and winter. They breed in colonies on rocky areas, or on cliff ledges and stacks, and are generally easy to spot.

Photo Credit: clara5656 under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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