Wildlife spotting in Antarctica is a lottery. There are no game park enclosures or zoos. There are no park rangers waiting for a “release the whale for tourists” call. There are no guarantees.
And that’s what makes it so special.
We are the visitors, on the outside looking in – we are venturing into their world. This is the natural world at its best: untouched and unspoiled, as it was meant to be.
Wildlife spotting in Antarctica is unpredictable. It’s an adventure, a hunt, an education and a completely unforgettable experience. The likelihood of seeing a particular species or behaviour may increase at a specific time of year or location, but they make the rules.
What You Might See
On a three week adventure in Dec/Jan through the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula I was surrounded by endless wildlife spotting opportunities – from the ship, from the zodiac and from land. Whilst it’s impossible to predict what you may see on your trip, here is an example based on mine:
Where You Might See It:
IN THE SKY
IN THE WATER
IN THE SNOW
ON THE ICE
FROM THE SHIP
FROM THE ZODIAC
5 Tips for Wildlife Spotting & Embracing Your Inner David Attenborough
1. Look for It
The lazy way to spot wildlife in Antarctica is to let the expedition crew do it for you. There is always someone on the Bridge to search for, identify and log wildlife, zodiac drivers radio each other as wildlife is spotted and the crew set foot on the land first to assess safety and wildlife opportunities. But where is the fun in that? The experience begins on the ship, it continues in the zodiacs and it culminates on land – and spotting wildlife yourself provides an adrenalin rush that becomes addictive.
2. Watch It
The first sighting of a creature in it’s natural habitat is an incredible experience. Seeing that same creature behave in it’s natural habitat is extraordinary. Take the time to quietly observe the wildlife you see – the rewards are magnificent.
3. Be Patient
Antarctica is not an outdoor zoo and the wildlife does not perform on queue – and that is the beauty of it.
4. Expect the Unexpected
Those magical moments on wildlife documentaries are not performed by animals hired to act a scene. They are unique events captured in an instance from the observation of wildlife in it’s natural environment. Yes, the film makers may have been watching the wildlife for a long period of time, but it’s all about being in the right place at the right time…and you are certainly in the right place!
5. Respect It
Remember this is their home and you are a visitor. Follow the advice and guidelines of the expedition crew for your safety and the well being of the creatures your encounter.
Kellie travelled through the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica for three weeks in Dec 2012 & Jan 2013 with Quark Expeditions and is sharing this experience in a four-part series here at We Said Go Travel.
For more Antarctica stories and photographs, visit her at Destination Unknown.