One of the great tourism frontiers for travellers, explorers and
adventurers is Antarctica, Earth's southernmost continent. Located in the
Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, it is home to the geographic South
Pole. This remote region is popular with tourist seeking an experience that is
different and memorable.
The Antarctic region is
home to an extraordinary range of wildlife, both living on land and in the
waters of the Southern Ocean. Among the many creatures are marine mammals known
as seals and sea lions. There are a number of species to be found in the
Antarctic including Crabeater seals, Elephant seals, Antarctic Fur seals,
Leopard seals, Ross seals, Sea lions and Weddell seals. Once hunted to near
extinction, seals are now protected.
Weddell seals were discovered and named in the 1820s by James Weddell, during
expeditions to the part of the Southern Ocean now known as the Weddell Sea. The
seals have a circumpolar distribution, and are found around the entire Antarctic
continent. They are coastal, preferring to stay around fast ice and venturing no
further than 15-20 km into the Southern Ocean to feed. The Weddell seals
haul-out onto the fast-ice to rest, moult and for the females to pup.
Fast-ice, also known as shore-fast ice, ice that is anchored to a landmass,
or similar that fixes it in place, instead of floating free like drift ice.
Fast-ice in the Antarctic is the sea ice that has frozen along coastlines,
shoals or shallow parts of the continental shelf. Often the fast-ice covers an
extensive iced region, that protrudes significantly from land.
Australian Government -
Australian Antarctic Division website lists
Australian tour operators for the Antarctic. For those planning to include
Macquarie Island World Heritage Area, information is available from the
Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service.
Many thanks to Jennifer Cooke for sharing the story and images of
the wonderful tour she went on with Aurora Expeditions to Antarctica.
Source: Images courtesy of Jennifer Cooke