A White Desert, Full of Life

I see very large Crabeater seals lying lazily on the ice or playing with their friends. They look and act like they have all the food they could ever eat at their disposal, and that they have nowhere urgent to be. A few lucky people have spotted a leopard seal or two, patrolling the ice floes in search of their next penguin snack. Finally, we have seen a few Minke whales surfacing in the open water behind our ship. All you can ever see of the whales is the loud sprays from their blowhole that instantly crystallizes in the cold air, and then their rounded backs as they dive down into the depths again.

How did I feel when I saw it?:

Getting to see these amazing creatures in their natural environment has been a true highlight of this expedition. We are very careful not to get too close to any penguin, seal, whale or bird that we see, but I do often get to observe this wildlife close up when an animal either comes to the ship or I can get on the ice and observe from a safe (for them) distance. I feel very excited every time I am walking the perimeter of the ship and see something moving in the water or flying overhead. I also look for any dark shape on the white ice and snow background, because chances are good that it is a napping seal, an Adelie penguin colony or even an interesting ice structure that is casting a shadow. These beautiful animals have a lot of personality. They play, they sleep, they communicate with one another and they eat, each in their own special way. I feel very lucky to have a front row seat for the action, and I think the unexpected arrival of the S.A. Agulhas II is giving them something to talk about, too.