Wildlife In the Ice Pack
Three times our ship turned south, and three times it hit unusually firm pack ice. One of the ship's helmsmen said that in
his many years of service, he had never seen ice this severe. We also had several passengers and staff who had worked
in Antarctica and all said they had never seen anything like the challenges we faced in the pack ice.
In addition to the opportunity to experience such severe ice, we also saw quite a bit of wildlife as our ship lumbered
through the pack ice. Whales were seen several times daily, usually Minke whales. Unfortunately, the Minke were hard to
photograph as they surface and dive quickly two or three times and then are gone.
As our ship traveled through the ice pack, we
saw many Crab Eater Seals on the ice. Often
they were asleep and would wake up as our ship
approached--for most, the only ship they will ever
see. Most of these pictures were taken from the
bridge level, some ten stories up. These seals
were sleeping on the ice which explains the coat
of white on one side.
This crab eater was particularly
amusing. He did not wake up until
the ship was on top of him, passing
some ten meters away. I caught this
yawn with his teeth showing. It was
only after the ship passed him that
he woke up enough to slither away
at top speed.
There are only a few species of bird on
the pack ice other than the penguins
we saw frequently and which I have not
included here as they were more
interesting in the colonies.
Southern or Antarctic Fulmar
As our ship cut its way through the ice it turned over the ice to expose the Phytoplankton. The Phytoplankton grow on
the underside of the ice and are the food for the Krill. In turn the penguins and whales feed on the Krill. Global warming
is an extreme danger for this food chain.