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Flora and Fauna

Deception Island has a sparse but exceptional flora, including at least 18 species of moss or lichen which have not been recorded elsewhere in the Antarctic, 2 of which are endemic. No other area in Antarctica is comparable. Of particular importance are the unique plant communities that grow at the island's geothermal areas, and the largest known community of Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis). Eleven sub-sites of botanical importance have been proposed as Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 140. The Management Plan for ASPA140 can be accessed here.

Unique plant communities growing at geothermally heated site

The benthic habitat of Port Foster is also of ecological interest due to the natural disturbance caused by volcanic activity. Two sub-sites are currently protected as ASPA No. 145. The Management Plan for ASPA145 can be accessed here.

Nine species of seabird breed on the island. The world's largest colony of chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) is located at Baily Head, on the south-west coast, where an estimated 100,000 pairs nest. The Code of Conduct for visits to Baily Head can be accessed here.

Baily Head

Underwater Video Clips

Videographer: David Cothran
© Copyright Lindblad Expeditions/David Cothran

These clips were shot during a dive in Neptune's Bellows (the entrance to Port Foster) on January 14, 2006. Maximum depth on the dive was approximately 85 feet (26 meters) and water temperature was approximately 34°F (1°C). The dive was made at slack low tide and visibility was moderately poor, though not unusually so for this site at this time of year.

Clip One
This clip begins panning down from the large macroalgae (kelp) that grow attached to the lower-angle rocks at the top of the underwater buttress called Hephaestus' Wall, which was the focus of the dive. Below the macroalgae several species of encrusting sponges are visible on the upper part of the wall. The wall plunges vertically from approximately 65 feet (20 meters), where this shot was taken, to a cinder slope at approximately 105 feet (32 meters).

View clip (.mov 4.2 MB)

Clip Two
This clip pans up a slot in the wall at approximately 75 feet (23 meters). Numerous species of sponges, ascidians and echinoderms are visible. This wall is one of the richest and most beautiful underwater sites I have seen around the Antarctic Peninisula.

View clip (.mov 4.0 MB)

Clip Three
This clip shows a very different side of the underwater world of Deception Island. On the unconsolidated cinder slopes which make up much of the bottom of Port Foster, marine communities are quite depauperate, consisting of numerous individuals of a very few species. Here, on a slope adjacent to Hephaestus' Wall, the cinders are covered with thousands of brittle stars.

View clip (.mov 1.6 MB)

Note: .mov files are video files designed to be viewed using "QuickTime" software. Quicktime can be downloaded free-of-charge from the Apple web site