Abundant Wildlife: Beyond Antarctica Ice & Snow

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A sleepy baby elephant seal checks us out

Don’t be fooled – you are entering their world.  They own this part of the globe, and maybe that’s why it’s so special.  It may be one of the last places on earth where man hasn’t taken over.  A world where humans are not the center of attention – that’s exactly what draws me here.  The wildlife in Antarctica is vast and certainly special.  From birds to seals, to penguins, to krill, to whales – they all go on in their circle of life hunting each other in the freezing cold waters they have adapted to.  When humans step into their world, they barely blink.  A seal may stretch and look up for a moment before settling back down for a nap.  A penguin may stop and stare, and then move right on by you within inches knowing that you are no threat.

Seeing these animals in their natural habitat was a privilege – and it also probably ruined me at the same time.  I was recently chatting with Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman.com who had also just returned from Antarctica and she mentioned that she didn’t think she could ever go to SeaWorld again after visiting Antarctica and seeing the animals in their habitat.  I had to agree.  Most days if felt as if you had walked into a Discovery Channel show  – completely surreal.

Some of the highlights were being able to see some rare sights – such as a leopard seal nursing her young, a large pack of Orca whales  (50 to 100)harras a few Minke whales, and 3 Fin whales (the 2nd largest animal on this earth) surface in front of our ship – directly in front of the ship.  In fact you can see the Fin whales in this video I shot – they were so close I couldn’t even get them into the frame!

Here’s just a few of the animals we saw and I was able to capture on my cruise to Antarctica.  I was able to get close to thanks to kayaking and some great zodiac maneuvering by expedition staff!

A Cormorant nesting

A leopard seal and new baby rest on an iceberg

Chinstrap penguins hop from rock to rock

A pack of orca (killer) whales hunt/aggravate a minke whale

A seabird taking off appears to walk on water in the Drake Passage

Crabeater seals hang out on an iceberg

A Humpback whale shows it's tail while doing a deep dive for feeding

A seabird steals a penguin egg - the penguin's only real predators on land

A leopard seal takes a snooze

A seabird glides around Antarctica

A seal and a penguin sleep next to each other on land.  Friendly on land, but in the water it's a different story

A napping seal on an iceberg

Disclosure: ExpeditionTrips and G Adventures hosted my Antarctic Peninsula Cruise. However, all of the opinions expressed here are my own – as you know how I love to speak my mind!

Sherry Ott
Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of Briefcasetobackpack.com, a website offering career break travel inspiration and advice.

Additionally, she runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat adventures at Ottsworld.com.com.
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