I got off the ship several times while we were in Antarctica, usually in the morning. There was a specific time when crew members could leave the ship.
You had to apply to the list and get your gear for the outside. That included ski pants, deep rubber boots, and good gloves, and a warm hat. The Company didn’t want us to get sick so leaving the ship without some of these was impossible. We also got Life jackets, just in case we fell in the water. We would go with the research teams in big Zodiac boats.
The teams were specially selected people who had to go and explore the mainland early in the mornings before we got there. They had to map the places where we could go, which animals we could approach and how to behave in their presence and they needed to teach us how to get in and out of the Zodiacs.
All the wildlife in Antarctica is protected and a distance of a minimum of two meters was required. If a penguin was walking toward you, you had to freeze and let it pass by you.
There were instances when the bird walked to you and just stood there for fifteen minutes. No drastic movements were allowed and you just had to wait for the bird to move on. The penguins are a big attraction here and we took a lot of photos and videos of them. I loved the cute little things, even though they were very smelly.
I loved going through the intact snow and I made a huge number of photos there. How many people in the world can say they did that?
The most exciting thing was the last of five islands, the so-called Chilean base in Antarctica.
From mid-November to mid-February a group of eleven officers, policemen and conservationists lived there. We got closest to the penguins on that island and it was amazing, I saw momma birds there with their young.
Three little houses were built there. One was a museum, the second was an observation point and the third was the living quarters for the people that were there.
They all had their sleeping rooms and a big communal room where the kitchen was. We sat and had coffee with them, it was a great experience.
10 facts about Antarctica;
- It was found quite recently
No one looked at Antarctica until 1819 – it was the last continent to be discovered. Until then, no one knew for sure that it existed. Buta belief in the existence of a large southern land mass has been common since the ancient Greeks. The idea became even more convincing after the discovery of Tierra del Fuego in the 16th century.
- Nobody owns Antarctica
Various countries have tried to lay claim to Antarctica for centuries. But in 1959, 48 countries signed the Antarctic Treaty declaring the continent a “natural reserve, dedicated to peace and science.”
- Antarctica is far bigger – and more important – than you think
At over 5.4 million square miles (14 million km²) it is almost twice the size of the United States. Another fun fact about Antarctica – it contains 90% of the ice on the planet. This is extremely important for climate change because if everything melted, the oceans would rise by a huge amount – 200 to 210 feet (60 to 65 m).
- Its size changes depending on the seasons
The expansion of sea ice along the coast means that Antarctica almost doubles in size in the winter months. This means that cruise ship tours to Antarctica can only visit during the summer.
- No time zone
Yes – that’s not a mistake. There is no time zone you can practically choose your own. Fun fact – most scientists who live during periods on the continent choose their country’s time zone.
- It rains less than in the Sahara desert
Another surprising fact about Antarctica is that it is actually classified as a desert. Only 2 inches of rain (50 mm) falls on average per year, making it drier than the Sahara desert.
- Meteorite showers
Meteorites don’t crash here more often than anywhere else, but it’s easy to spot a meteorite against the bleak Antarctic landscape. Since the 1970s, more than 10,000 meteorites have been discovered in Antarctica – some dating back 700,000 years.
- Winds are legendary
While the Drake Passage and Cape Horn further north might be feared for gale-force winds, Antarctica endures storms that regularly reach up to 320 km/h.
- Antarctica has volcanoes
Is home to at least two active volcanoes. There are probably more, but they have yet to break the ice. The highest volcano is Mount Erebus, located on the Ross Ice Shelf in East Antarctica. The other is near Deception Island, a stop on cruise ship routes to Antarctica. Travelers can stop for a swim at Deception Island thanks to slightly warmer waters caused by nearby volcanic activity.
The most intrepid travelers these days can also take kayaking and camping trips to Antarctica – famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton would be amazed.
- Antarctica was once lush and tropical
Scientists have discovered fossils that indicate that 50 million years ago, forests and complex ecosystems of animals and birds once covered this icy, windy desert.
Antarctica remains an important place for scientific research. There are still many amazing facts about Antarctica that have yet to be discovered, but research on the continent continues to inform us of the amazing changes our planet has undergone through the ages.
Some areas are ice-free in the summer, including many of the areas we visit on the Antarctic Peninsula.