Tall, haunting mountains floating over the water. Mammoth blue icebergs floating by in a parade of improbable shapes. More prolific wildlife than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world … Antarctica gave us many surprises, and exceeded expectations by at least an order of magnitude. Our trip along the Antarctic Peninsula was blessed with calm seas, slight winds, and an overabundance of wildlife: gentoo penguins, Adélie penguins, chinstrap penguins, crab-eater seals, leopard seals, Weddell seals, humpback whales, orcas, and many birds like albatrosses, skuas, petrels and shearwaters. On one occasion, we stumbled upon an ice floe where over 50 seals were resting, including 30 leopard seals. (Amongst themselves, our guides called this ‘Narnia’.) Since leopard seals are exceptionally solitary predators, finding so many of them on the same ice floe — mixed in with crab-eater seals and Weddell seals, who can also be their prey — was truly amazing.
I climbed Spigot Peak on the mainland, camped overnight with my wife, went sea kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking and zodiac riding … every day was a revelation for us. Our ship — the Polar Class 6 vessel Hondius with 170 passengers — was great in every way. Nice crossings of the Drake Passage, despite its reputation for the roughest water in the world, were the icing on the cake of this bucket-list trip. I took a guitar along for the ride and wrote a number of songs, one of which I showed to the band immediately on my return. For me, that song captures the feel of leaving the pristine ice continent with its abundant wildlife, sailing through the South Shetland Islands and into the Drake Passage. Although it’s only been a week and a half since I returned, we’ll be performing it tomorrow night. I hope to record it soon!
Click through to the sub-galleries below for amazing Antarctica nature stock photography!