Some fascinating things I’ve taken away from this trip so far: 1) It’s amazing how far one can see down in the Antarctic. The air is cold and clean of dust or particulates, and we can often spot icebergs that are 50 miles or more in the distance. The southern ocean can, however, be very deceiving. Often there is a warm layer of air trapped over the surface of the water which causes a serious mirage effect, one of the most dramatic I’ve ever seen, which distorts everything on the horizon. Ice appears to be towering hundreds of feet tall in the distance, mountains appear bizarre and distorted at their base, and whatever you’re seeing cannot be trusted until you’re close enough to get a clear view. I found this effect difficult to capture in a photograph because it’s really something that you have to experience, but I did my best to portray what I was seeing in the photo I included.
2) Penguins are cute, and curious little buggers! They will walk right up to you if you sit in one spot long enough, which is a heart-warming experience.
3) While I expected the ‘white continent’ to be predominantly snow and ice, there are actually a LOT of huge mountains and rocks here! Enough to make a climber like myself drool as we pass them while I sit helplessly on the deck of the boat. Drooling, I might add, is not recommended as it will turn to ice before making it off your lips.
4) There can hardly be anything as spectacular as watching a sunset with a full moon rising over an iceberg in the Antarctic. In all my travels, the sunsets here are some of the most spectacular, and with the added effect of the ice and the moon, they are without a doubt some of the best I’ve ever seen.
5) Whale bones are huge! I thought elephant bones were big when I was in Africa, but I never thought I’d get close up and personal to the rib of a whale, next to which 6’2’’ Max pales in comparison.
6) Ice can take on many beautiful shapes, sizes, and colors. Almost sculpture-esque in appearance, each iceberg is unique and spectacular. One of my favorite activities thus far has been cruising around on zodiacs, which presents a wonderful opportunity to check out ice around from a different perspective than the 50’ tall boat deck.
7) My favorite discovery so far: When a whale surfaces at just the right angle from the ship, the reflection of light through the blow will actually create a rainbow! What a delightful surprise this was as I was photographing a pod of fin whales off the bow and I noticed that on the rare occasion when one of the whales would come up for air at just the right spot, a beautiful rainbow was formed in the wake of its blow. Fantastic! Not to mention the angle of the sun in the sky has to be perfect for this situation, so I consider myself extremely fortunate to have witnessed this wonderful phenomenon! Enjoy this photo of a 'Rainblow'