Sunday, March 9, 2008

Antarctic Wildlife

OK, here is the rundown on the Antarctic wildlife. It is everywhere, and completely ignores humans. For example, it is possible to walk among thousands of penguins in the middle of their rookery and watch mommas feed babies, mommas “exercise” the babies (running around on the rocks), and general penguin life. There is a downside though. Yep you guessed it…these guys smell. I would even venture to say that one can smell them from a mile away if the wind is right. Plus when visiting the rookery, you are constantly stepping and slipping around in their guano. Cleaning the boots in the ocean is a must after the visit. Despite this, the babies are cute and the adults are just pretty ridiculous, especially when hopping around on the rocks with their wings out for balance. When in the ocean, they also swim in flocks (is a group of penguins called a flock???) and regularly jump out of the water like a spawning salmon.

Whales: also abundant throughout the Antarctic Peninsula. I am not sure what species we saw though, but we saw many, some only 15 meters from the boat. We also had a pod of dolphins ride the waves off the bow of the ship, leaping into the air as we cruised south across the Drake Passage. One of the highlights of the trip for me occurred just as we left the Peninsula and headed north. I was sitting alone looking back towards Antarctica when the dorsal fin of a killer whale silently rose and sank back into the ocean about 50 meters away. I intently scanned the ocean for the next few minutes and saw 2 or 3 more orcas break the surface of the water for air and then they left as quietly as they came.

Fur seals are also everywhere. I was impressed how well the can hop around on the rocks. We also saw crab eater seals and leopard seals.


Jasper said...


Sarah said...

So have I mentioned that you are about as close to Steve Zissou as you can get? I think it was at the time of hearing of your talent as a Zodiac. Not too mention the dolphins. Did you get a gun?