Birding Cruise Antarctica: Subantarctic Islands and the Ross Sea 2018
Duration: 30 days
Being one of the most remote areas on our planet, with fascinating places regarding the human history of this continent, the Ross Sea region in Antarctica is a breathtaking destination. Impenetrable pack ice restricts any shipping to two short austral summer months, which allows very few people to travel to this extraordinary and wondrous region. Only a handful of tourist expedition ships travel here each year without scientific personnel. Ours is such a tour on an ice-strengthened and fully equipped boat, which is being crewed by skilled and well-experienced sailors and officers, some of the best in the world. With truly passionate and experienced guides and experts on board, this promises to be a natural experience that won’t soon be forgotten.
Named after the British naval officer and explorer, Sir James Clark Ross, who first discovered it in 1841, the Ross Sea was chosen by the British Royal Geographical Society for an Antarctic expedition to be led by Robert F. Scott from 1901 to 1904. This “British National Antarctic Expedition” (also known as the “Discovery Expedition”) caused many an explorer to compete in a race for the South Pole. Expeditions led by Sir Ernest Shackleton from 1907 to 1909 and a Japanese explorer, Nobu Shirase in 1910 to 1912 failed, until in 1911 the Norwegian Roald Amundsen succeeded. Shackleton then led a Trans-Antarctic expedition from 1914 to 1917, which ended this “Heroic Age of Antarctic Explorations”. Artifacts such as huts and more from this era still remain. Our cruise follows in these famous explorers’ footsteps.
The topography and natural history mapped by them remain untouched. Mountains such as Mount Erebus, Mount Discovery, and the Transantarctic Mountains are as majestic as they were a century ago. Penguins still occupy the same rookeries explored by early scientists, although their numbers vary from season to season. Seals used to be hunted for food, but now they’re seen waddling undisturbed around on the ice. In the 1920s whales were mercilessly hunted, mainly for their blubber, but have since then slowly re-entered the Antarctic, although some species have bred better than others. Birds such as Snow Petrel, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Antarctic Prion, and South Polar Skua all successfully breed in this apparently hostile environment, and we also will try to find Emperor Penguin on this tour, among many other penguin species.
The Ross Sea offers a plethora of things to keep you busy, from visiting the explorers’ original huts and camps to enjoying penguin rookeries, gazing upon glacial ice walls on the coastline and thick floating ice platforms, and deciphering sea ice and icebergs. Not to even mention all the seabirds, seals, and whales to marvel at and to capture with your camera, modern scientific bases and satellite stations to visit, and the pure bliss of enjoying a sundowner in good company and with breathtaking views.
The little-studied Subantarctic Islands stretch like a trail of bread crumbs from New Zealand to the Antarctic continent. On our expedition we will visit the Snares Islands, the Auckland Islands, and Macquarie Island before we reach Antarctica, and Campbell Island will be visited on the return voyage. These islands not only break up our long expedition, but, very importantly, prepare us for what to expect. The Southern Ocean ecosystem, driven by Antarctica, encompasses these amazing islands, and in exploring its lands and waters we will learn to understand one of the most important ecosystems of our world.See full tour detail