Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Travels to Antarctica have certainly come a long way since Shackleton's day. Now anyone who is willing to part with a small fortune can get him- or herself to the vast southern continent with ease and in relative comfort. It is no longer necessary to risk life and limb to observe penguins in the wild. You don't even have to miss a single meal. Just hop on a ship out of Ushuaia at the southern end of South America and in a day or so you'll be amongst huge icebergs, leopard seals and tens of thousands of penguins.
I joined about 70 other people aboard a Canadian icebreaker on it's maiden Antarctic voyage and the worst I had to contend with was seasickness for 24 hours. Many others fared similarly, some suddenly upchucking while waiting in the cafeteria line. But after a day or so at sea everyone seemed to adapt and the initial discomforts were a price certainly worth paying for access to this spectacular region.
Late one afternoon our ship was anchored just offshore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most people were in a party atmosphere and there was little interest in going ashore where it was overcast and windy. A photographer buddy and I finally managed to talk the captain into allowing us to go on land, but for only one hour. The captain sent an inflatable boat to take us ashore. It was during this short time that I captured my best penguin images of the entire trip, including the one above and on my facebook page.