Tuesday
Oct142014

Antarctica Wildlife Safaris: Penguins, Whales, and Seals!

One the world’s last frontier’s, Antarctica is a fascinating and mysterious landscape that few travelers have ever experienced. Uninhabited by man, this stark environment invites curious and intrepid adventurers who desire to observe a fascinating range of exotic wildlife. Modern icebreakers enable guests on an Antarctica cruise to reach this remote wilderness in safety and comfort. During a luxury safari, you will have panoramic vistas of snow-white glaciers crashing into the ocean, massive sea-sculpted icebergs and shimmering cliffs towering over the water. There will also be opportunities to experience close encounters with some of nature’s most fascinating creatures. Put on snowshoes and hike the ice sheet, weave in and out of icebergs on a zodiac or glide silently on a kayak among the creatures that inhabit the Southern Ocean.

Antarctica travel
These excursions enable you to view animals of Antarctica, such as penguins, whales and seals as they live in and adapt to their frigid environment. You can witness massive colonies of Emperor Penguins as well as Chinstraps, Gentoos and Rockhoppers feeding, courting and hatching. Watch as these “flippered flyers” waddle and frolic on shore and then move effortless through the near-freezing water. They can stay under water for up to 20 minutes and travel at speeds over 12 mph. Their well-insulated bodies have a thick coating of fat, a layer of soft downy feathers and an outer coat of oily feathers. Penguins often fluff their feathers to release trapped heat and cool off. Near sighted on land, penguins have keen eyesight under water that they use to avoid predators, such as leopard seals and killer whales, the largest species of dolphin.

In addition to orcas, several species of whale live in or near Antarctica during various times of the year. These include the blue, sperm, south-right and humpback species. Once hunted close to extinction, Southern Ocean whales are making a comeback as the area around the continent has been declared a sanctuary, which is monitored by the International Whaling Commission. Many of these species feed in the cold waters during the summer before migrating north to warmer water to mate and breed. When the calves are a few months old, whales return south to the rich feeding grounds during the austral spring.

Seals are another group of mammals that are an important part of the Southern Ocean’s marine ecosystem. Only six of the world’s 35 species of seals live in Antarctica, but they comprise the majority of the planet’s seal population. Even though they have no ears, they possess remarkable underwater hearing using a type of sonar to navigate and to locate food. They can also perform these feats in complete darkness. Commonly sighted Weddell seals prefer to rest on the ice and snow rather than open land or rocks. Other species that reside in Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia Island include colonies of fur, leopard and elephant seals. Watch as male elephant seals fight for dominance and fur seals move faster on land than humans do. International treaties have been enacted to protect these animals.

On an Antarctic luxury safari, you will witness unspoiled landscapes that encompass mountainous terrain and rugged coastlines formed over thousands of years by glacial activity. Explore this unique setting of epic scenery and amazing wildlife on a variety of onshore and ship-based activities. The environment is the habitat of marine creatures and aquatic birds that are seen nowhere else on earth. Experience the thrill of tracing the footsteps of the legendary explorers of a by-gone era and visit historic sites on the untamed White Continent and nearby islands. You can select from a wide range of travel and accommodation options. Enjoy the luxury and elegance of a Silversea Antarctica cruise; take a helicopter flight with Oceanwide to land among emperor penguins. Experience the wilderness adventure of a lifetime in an ecological camp in the interior with White Desert. Be inspired, start planning your excursion to the largest ice mass on earth with Epic Road and experience one of the last remaining truly wild frontiers on the planet.

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