See Antarctica’s outstanding wildlifeAntarctica
Being this is the most remote and inhospitable place on Earth, you’d be forgiven for thinking you could go days without seeing any other sign of life on an Antarctic cruise. If anything, though, you’ll be gob-smacked by the number of animals you spot while you’re here.
The only animal to live in the Antarctic year round is the hardy emperor penguin. The rest fly or swim out of the southern reaches when the weather is at its most harsh and migrate back again during the spring. Even during summer the temperature rarely gets any warmer than about –2ºC, so it’s easy to see how only the strong survive.
What can you expect to see? There is any number of species of penguins that live this far south. The previously mentioned emperors are, indeed, penguin royalty, standing at about 120 centimetres tall. That’s one big bird. Then there’s the small but feisty Adélie penguin, the chinstrap penguin, which is most common around the South Sandwich Islands, and the gentoo, whose slickness and speed in the water makes it a fierce predator.
One step up the food chain from penguins is the seal family. The leopard seal is the most formidable of hunters, but you’ll probably get to see other species including the Antarctic fur seal, Weddell seal, which spends the entirety of winter underwater, the oddly named crabeater seal (odd because it eats prawns), and the humongous southern elephant seal.
The icy ocean, which is rich with krill, is also home to humpback whales and orcas. The former is quite inquisitive so will often approach boats in the water, while the latter loves to hunt in these waters. A highlight of any cruise in Antarctica is the sight of a school of orcas circling seals on the ice waiting for them to accidentally slip into the water.
- Spending hours out on deck spotting whales and seals.
- Seeing penguins in the wild is one of life’s greatest experiences.
- Have you ever smelled ‘penguano’? It’s not great.
- It’s every creature for itself out here. Don’t be surprised if watching orcas circle seals on an ice shelf gets gory.
See some of the hardiest wildlife in nature when you join one of Chimu Adventures’ Antarctica cruises. There’s a range of different expeditions, lasting between 10 and 21 days.