This guide covers the wildlife found South of The Antarctic Convergence (the area where the warm currents coming south meet the cold currents going north). Whilst this is logical in geographical and natural history terms, it may be a disappointment to those whose holiday includes the Falkland Islands that although South Georgia is covered the Falklands are not. I do not know how much of a problem this will turn out to be in practice.
The book concentrates mainly on birds and marine mammals, although there are two or three pages on each of terrestrial plants and insects, marine invertebrates and fish. Dafila Scott's illustrations are a delight, being works of art in their own right as well as showing the identifying features clearly. Most species are allocated two pages, including distribution maps and information on behaviour and feeding habits as well as field characteristics. A particularly useful feature of the pages on whales is pictures of the outlines of the different species as seen above the water, and the shape of the "blow" - a very practical addition to the usual pictures of the whole whale as if stuffed in a glass case!
An introductory chapter on the discovery and exploitation of the wildlife of the area provides an interestingly different slant from the usual information on the discovery and exploration of the continent.A final detail which will be useful when comparing notes with people of other nationalities is a list of the names of the birds and animals in English, French, German and Spanish.
I had hesitated over ordering this book as I was also purchasing the Lonely Planet Guide to Antarctica, which has a 30-page wildlife guide. I have not regretted my decision. Although the additional information is not enormous, and some people may feel the Lonely Planet Guide is adequate for their needs, I felt that this book is well worth buying for its beauty and clarity. It may seem a little expensive for a mere 144 pages, but it is light to carry!