Antarctica is unparalleled, otherworldly, and powerfully moving in a way that is almost impossible to describe. But we’re going to try. A&K is excited to introduce a series of first-hand stories — dispatches, moments, eye-openers — by our guests and Expedition Team about their experiences across the Southern Ocean.
As told by A&K climate change expert and marine biologist Dr. James McClintock from his current research site, Palmer Station in Antarctica
I’m in Antarctica now, and it has me thinking that there is no good reason that anyone who hasn’t been should put off a visit. It is the quintessential trip of a lifetime and I can say with great experience and confidence that it will change you — and in a better, enriching way.
For me as a marine biologist, Antarctica is always about the wildlife, which is remarkable and unreal in so many respects. Just last month, I was along the Antarctic Peninsula on a research expedition and we counted 65 humpback whales in just a few hours time. We saw many feeding and several breaching (leaping from the water). I had never seen such a large concentration of whales.
These high populations of animals take some getting used to. One of my favorite experiences is going ashore and being welcomed by tens of thousands of Adélie or gentoo or chinstrap penguins, and discovering the penguins have not read the regulations for keeping their distance. I call it the Disney element; because the wildlife have no history of predation by large animals, they have no fear of us. It’s surreal. Whether for me as a scientist or an A&K guest making their first landing, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.