15 Antarctica Cruise Pictures That Are Better Than Anything We Could Say
It’s a tough task, explaining the beauty and adventure of an Antarctic cruise. Fortunately, a recent technology allows you to take photographs while visiting the south end of the Earth.
Enjoy the pictorial majesty of our southernmost continent (and the islands along the way).
Before we get into wildlife and activities and all that kind of stuff, we should take a moment to point out that you’re going to have a really difficult time taking a bad picture on your Antarctic cruise. You’re constantly surrounded by the amazing scenery on all sides.
With an average temperature of -10 degrees centigrade along its coasts, the Antarctica’s one of a kind environment is breathtaking. It is covered with ice sheets that can go as deep as 2,450 meters. This exceptional setting gives the land of snow and ice winter days without sun and summer days with literally 24 hours of sunlight. Given this natural phenomenon, the Antarctica can present the most outstanding landscapes that are truly out of this world.
The scenery doesn’t stop at the land’s edge. Antarctica is an iceberg mecca, with hundreds of them calving off the landlocked glaciers. The icebergs in the region serve an important purpose, while they can present a huge danger to ships and other sea transport systems, they actually help scientists to learn more about significant climate mechanisms.
3. State-sized chips off of the old block
Don’t be fooled by these delicate little samples of ice: Icebergs can be immense. Some of them are the size of the smaller American states. In fact, just a few months ago, a chunk of iceberg estimated to be the same size as the state of Delaware calved off the largest ice shelf in the Antarctica.
The icebergs chipping off of their shelves spill various nutrients for the ocean life, as recent studies show that areas with surrounding glaciers have a considerable number of fishes and plankton living off of them.
4. Drinkable art
The other great thing about icebergs is that they’re made up of some of the cleanest freshwaters on the planet. There’s even been a talk of farming icebergs by towing them to regions lacking freshwater reserves of their own. Additionally, the Antarctica’s ice sheets contain about 70% of the world’s fresh water. Experts say that icebergs of considerable size, say, a 3-kilometer long one can contain up to about 75 billion litres of water.
While harvesting icebergs for freshwater may sound appealing especially to the regions that do not have enough reserves, the process of doing so is still under study. Towing seems to be a doable option, but doing so may cause substantial damage to the ocean floor. Thus, although the iceberg meltwater can present a solution to freshwater scarcity, the actual process of using them has not been established yet.
5. It’s not all ice and snow
During the southern hemisphere’s summer (peaking around December and January), the weather is fairly warm along the Antarctic Continent’s coastlines. These temperatures average around the freezing mark, ranging from -10°C to 10°C. In fact, some summer days would have the sun shining for 24 hours. The summertime in Antarctica is also the best season to watch whales take the water. Various species of whales are typically seen in the ocean when it is not freezing.
Additionally, photographers, art enthusiasts, and nature lovers appreciate the spring and early summer seasons, as the snow conditions during this time is at its most ideal state – thin, pristine, and simply exquisite.
6. Birds by the dozen
If you’re an ornithologist, you will be able to check off a whole lot of exotic feathered friends from your must-see list. Summer in Antarctica is an ideal season for a number of seabird breeds, as they can have more than enough food supply in the ocean, from zooplankton to various types of fishes. Also, they breed in large number as the ground is devoid of snow, giving them enough room for nesting.
7. Flightless birds by the millions
And of course, there are these guys. Contrary to common belief, penguins aren’t relegated to the continent alone. They can be found along the South American coastlines, New Zealand, and all the way up to the Galapagos Islands. In fact, out of the 17 known species of penguins, only six can be found in the Antarctic region. The Emperor penguins, which are the largest of all penguin species, normally breed on the sea ice and they are known for not stepping on land at all. Hundreds of them can be seen on the continent.
8. More penguins
Come breeding season (summer), rookeries fill with masses of these dapper ladies and gentlemen. Some species, like the Emperors, breed in the autumn season when the sea ice is thick enough for ‘nesting’.
9. And even more penguins
There are millions of them on land. Some species, like the Adelies, normally stay on land or near the outer ice edges during winter to keep them warm. On the other hand, species such as the Chinstraps even prefer to breed and nest in rocky areas totally devoid of snow.
10. You get the idea
…And in the seas.
11. Also, seals
Penguins aren’t the only wildlife you can check out (or be checked out by) on your Antarctic cruise. Six different species of seal hang out in the Antarctic area: fur, crabeater, Weddell, Ross, leopard, and elephant seals are in the water, by the shore, and floating on floes of ice.
Some of these species breed and live on ice, while some prefer warmer waters. They normally live deep underwater, as the temperature below the surface is almost consistent at 1.8 to 1-degree centigrade. Interestingly, they spend their time on iced land upon giving birth, exposing their little ones in the sun.
12. Official greeters
By law, Antarctic cruise passengers aren’t supposed to approach wildlife in the sea or on shore. However, none of the wildlife has read the rulebooks, so they have no problem satisfying their own curiosity by getting close to you for an inspection.
13. Part-time models
Do not be surprised to see these creatures striking a winning pose for photographs!
14. Mammalian matchmaking
Whales may get in on the action too. During the fall and winter season, whales typically migrate towards the equator to ensure that they have enough food supply during their mating season. Some breeds travel for thousands of miles at a time making sure that they have the ideal location for mating and birthing.
15. One last shot
There’s just one problem with photos taken on Antarctic cruises: they always leave you wanting more.
Pictures (© Dietmar Denger – Oceanwide Expeditions) in this article have been taken on a Falklands – South Georgia – Antarctic Peninsula trip from Oceanwide Expeditions.