Antarctica, South Georgia & The Southern Ocean — January 2019

What an incredible journey it’s been, to spend three consecutive years traveling to and exploring the Antarctic peninsula! There’s something that remains forever captivating about this place — its absolute isolation, the stark grandeur of its jagged peaks, the steady grinding of its bedrock by vast fields of ice. Living aboard a ship, life is a constant stream of high adventure, with its own challenges (forging hiking trails through knee-deep snow, navigating ice-choked bays by zodiac, keeping elephant seals from crushing your gear) and epic rewards.

The Antarctic peninsula (referred to hereafter simply as ‘the peninsula’) is an interesting place. This thin mountain chain thrusts Northward into the Southern Ocean from the driest, highest, and coldest land in the world; continental Antarctica. The interior Antarctic is a land very few humans will ever get to see: thousands of miles of icy wastes, broken only by the occasional gaping crevasse, mountain spire, or hermetic scientific outpost (like the one on the South Pole, or Russia’s Vostok). It is a forlorn land ruled by ice, slowly churning and grinding away at bedrock, miles below.

To most people, at first glance, the peninsula seems much the same: towering glaciers tumble into the sea, jagged mountain peaks rise from the roiling waves to staggering heights. But here, with an abundant ocean slamming against its shores, islands and ledges, there is life — perhaps some of the highest densities of life anywhere on the planet. Immense swarms of Antarctic krill, the staple of the Southern Ocean diet, outnumber human life on earth 57 billion to 1. Thousands of whales (it was millions before we slaughtered them en masse) flock to these shores to to the point where it’s sometimes difficult to get away from them. The Antarctic’s ice seals are among the most abundant wild mammals on Earth —  population statisticians estimate that there are around 15 million crabeater seals plying the icy waters around the white continent (luckily for crabs, the seals much prefer krill). And then, of course, there are the penguins. There’s plenty of penguins too.

I hope you enjoy this selection of photos and stories from my most recent expedition with Abercrombie & Kent. It’s taken me about a month since my return home to go through these pictures and edit down several thousand to just a few. Here they are!