Antarctica is the best continent for natural beauty. This is the only place on earth where you can travel for days and days and see no sign of people. For the most part Antarctica is just frozen and lifeless, but the perimeter of Antarctica is where you can find all the wildlife, especially on it’s peninsula. There is a section of Antarctica called the dry valleys, and it has not snowed there in millions of years. In the winter time Antarctica almost doubles in size as the ocean around it freezes. The most exotic part of Antarctica is the Antarctic Peninsula; this is the warmest part and is visited by many animals for breeding during the austral summer which is from October to February. My first picture is of the snow covered mountains. The next is some colorful rocks that continue down into the ocean.
With the bright sun and all the dry ice, the picture on the left might make calling Antarctica a desert more understandable. In the middle of the summer the days are very long with only a few hours of darkness. Above is the sun setting at dusk which lasts for a very long time.
The picture on the upper left was my first glimpse of Antarctica. This continent was only discovered in the 19th century. Imagine sailing in a ship and discovering a wall of ice and dark clouds and realizing you just found an entire continent. Sailing in Antarctica can be pretty dangerous because you have to go through the Drake Passage if you’re coming from South America. On the way back we sailed around Cape Horn, which is said to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for ships. We had some 40 foot waves outside, but it’s said that sometimes they can reach 80 feet. The rocking was so bad I wondered if getting out of bed would be too dangerous, but I tried it anyway. Afterwards I would lie in my bed which had seat belts and I’d get a feeling of being weightless, then I’d feel like someone was forcing my face into the bed as the ship rocked back and forth. Sailing around Cape Horn was definitely an experience. Once in Antarctica the ice in the water is probably the most dangerous threat to ships. In the top right picture, that bay was completely empty of ice an hour earlier. I had been on land when suddenly a huge building size piece of ice fell into the water. This created a huge wave and when it rose against the ice behind it, it had an almost neon blue appearance. The ice quickly broke up and as you can see in the upper right picture, it filled up the entire bay with sheet ice. The crew was worried our ship would get stuck but we were able to make it out with no problems.
On the left is me hiking on the mainland near some penguins. On another day I thought it was a good idea to go swimming. I did a cannon ball into the ocean and swam around for about a minute. I think the water was so cold that the shock of it all made it feel not so bad. When I got out of the water I felt very warm, but my skin had a numb tingly feeling almost like a small electric shock.
You might be surprised to see that the Antarctic Peninsula actually has patches of moss. It grows very slowly taking hundreds of years to get as large as seen above. On the right is the more common view of the black rock mountains rising out of the water
My last four pictures are of the South Shetland Islands. They are some distance from the mainland and even have some grassy areas. On the left you can see the many colors of the pebbles on the beach. On the right is a towering rock formation that is populated with many birds.
These surrounding photos are of some larger spring runoffs that created some small creeks. You can see in the pictures above that the creeks are still very hot after they left the spring and are steaming. On the lower left is where a particularly hot spring meets a cold river in Yellowstone. On the right are some strange plants growing next to the springs runoff. They are only a few inches in height, but seem to be the only plant that has adapted to the soil.
The grassy area you see above is also part of the South Shetland Islands, probably the greenest area of Antarctica!