Incredible Encounters With The Wildlife In Antarctica

Last updated on: 8 Comments

There are only a handful of places in this world that offer the most spectacular wildlife experiences imaginable. A safari in Africa is one. A cruise around the Galapagos Islands is another. But nowhere else boasts true remoteness and splendour quite like a wildlife expedition to Antarctica.

The landscapes of the white continent are the initial source of unrivalled awe encountered in Antarctica, yet it is the wildlife that will forever stay in your memory.

When we travelled to Antarctica with One Ocean Expeditions we knew we were going to experience something magnificent. As one of the last truly wild regions on the planet, it was a destination that enticed more excitement than we had ever felt before.

After the two days spent crossing the Drake Passage we finally made it to the Antarctic Peninsula. From the moment the sun rose over the snow-capped peaks we caught our first glimpse of some of the remarkable species that call Antarctica home – gentoo penguins, minke whales, crabeater seals and countless birds. And that was just the beginning.

For the next 6 days we got up close and personal with the wildlife, and our appreciation for beauty of the animal world has never been the same since.

The world class naturalists, whale specialists and ornithologist onboard with One Ocean Expeditions spent endless hours sharing every piece of information they could about the creatures we were encountering. Their knowledge greatly enhanced our experience with the wildlife in Antarctica, and we can’t thank them enough for this.

It was a trip we will never forget. These are some of our favourite wildlife encounters that we experienced in Antarctica.

Check out plenty of amazing things to do in Antarctica in our latest article.

Humpback Kayaker Wildlife In Antarctica
Of everything that stands out in our minds, it was this day in the Gerlache Strait, when we were surrounded by a huge pod of humpback whales coming right up to our groups, that is the most memorable. The kayakers were in awe as the whales breached next to them, and we couldn’t believe our eyes as it was happening.
Gentoo Penguins Wildlife In Antarctica
The most common species you’ll likely encounter in the Antarctic Peninsula are the gentoo penguins. They form huge colonies on every cove, island and beach, and are very curious of humans.
Crabeater Seal Wildlife In Antarctica
A beautiful crabeater seals stretches on a small iceberg on our first day in the Antarctic Peninsula.
4 Humpback Whales Wildlife In Antarctica
4 humpback whales breach at the same time in the Gerlache Strait. A truly phenomenal encounter!
Seal Zodiac Wildlife In Antarctica
A seal pops his head up to check out a zodiac during a cruise on our first day.
Elephant Seal Wildlife In Antarctica
Arguably the ugliest creature in Antarctica, the elephant seal is enormous and can weigh up to 4 tonnes. We found them all over Hannah Cove on Livingstone Island. While we had to keep our distance (they can be quite temperamental), they were still a wonder to see up close.
Macaroni Penguin Wildlife In Antarctica
6 types of penguins live in Antarctica, and while we saw countless gentoos, chinstraps and adelies, we only managed to find two macaroni penguins, with their famous yellow mohawk.
Macaroni Chinstrap Penguin Wildlife In Antarctica
Here one of the macaroni penguins can be found hanging out in a chinstrap penguin colony.
Leopard Seal Wildlife In Antarctica
A leopard seal takes a break on a floating piece of ice. We were so happy to see one of these amazing creatures during our time in Antarctica.
Gentoo Penguin Feeding Wildlife In Antarctica
A gentoo penguin feeds its young in the Antarctic Peninsula.
Seal Wildlife In Antarctica
While the seals tended to rest and relax on the shore, in the water they were extremely playful and curious.
Penguin Kayaker Wildlife In Antarctica
When you do zodiac cruises or go sea kayaking in Antarctica you have the great perspective of seeing the penguins up close from the sea.
Humpback Whale Spy Hop Wildlife Encounters In Antarctica
A humpback whale spy hops next to a group of kayakers in the Gerlache Strait. Whales do this to have a look at what is above the surface.
Elephant Seal Penguin Wildlife In Antarctica
There is such an abundance of wildlife in Antarctica that species peacefully co-exist. While the elephant seals slept, the gentoo penguins wandered around carefree.
Orca Wildlife In Antarctica
One creature we didn’t manage to see up close was the incredible orca, but our experience with them was still spectacular. At the end of our most intense day for wildlife encounters, a pod of orcas showed up amongst the humpbacks, crabeater seals and gentoo penguins. They didn’t get close enough to our ship to capture a good photo, but the memory of seeing the majestic killer whales will not be forgotten.
Gentoo Penguin Chick Wildlife Encounters In Antarctica
This gentoo chick came running up to us, squawking away. It looked so cute we couldn’t help but snap a picture.
Sea Lion Yawning Wildlife In Antarctica
A sea lion gives a big yawn during one of our shore landings.
Humpback Whales Kayaks Wildlife In Antarctica
Two humpbacks breach on either side of these lucky kayakers.
Check out our ultimate destination guide all about travel to Antarctica!

Our trip to Antarctica was made possible thanks to our partnership with One Ocean Expeditions. All thoughts, opinions and close encounters with humpback whales are, as always, our own.

About the author

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Pilot Mark

    What a unique experience! I think its so important to see Antarctica now, especially considering the environmental concerns. When I was in Alaska I was gobsmacked by the beauty of the glaciers and their stunning colours.

      Alesha And Jarryd

      Thank you so much Mark. We agree. It is such a special place. Alaska would have been amazing. That is on our list one day. 🙂

    Michelle | michwanderlust

    Awww those animals are totally heart-melting! But then I think about what else is melting in Antarctica and I want to cry. Did you feel that way over there?

      Alesha And Jarryd

      They are very cute and very cheeky. We hear you about the melting issue. When you are there you get overwhelmed by the beauty and the animals and then you do stop and take in that issue. We were always environmentally friendly but when we returned we were even more aware of it. We are more vocal about issues now and try to talk about it with others. It is heartbreaking.

    Katie Featherstone

    Wow, that was quite a trip! Your photos just get better and better.

      Alesha And Jarryd

      Thank you so much

    Mike Clegg from Travel and Destinations

    This looks like one of the most amazing experiences ever! Your pictures sell this to me so much and now I want to hop on a boat and go! Thanks so much for sharing this! It’s super inspiring!

      Alesha And Jarryd

      Thank you so much. It definitely was a magical trip. The animals were amazing. We learnt all about them on the ship first and then seeing them in the wild was amazing. We understood their behaviours and we had the experts there to point out a lot of other things. 🙂

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