Thinking about departing on an Antarctica cruise with your tykes? We can’t blame you; the upcoming summer heat would make anyone want to live inside a giant ice cube. But what is there to do in the cold south? Too many people, it just seems like a white desert.
My friends Agness and Cez of eTramping are here to prove otherwise. When we told them that Antarctica is on our Travel Bucket List for 2018 for our world-schooling, they were kind enough to present some fascinating animals in Antarctica – and show that the continent is more alive than you think!
Without further ado, here are some of the captivating creatures you and your family can encounter on your Antarctic trip.
#1 The Wandering Albatross
Among the animals in Antarctica, you and your kids will mostly come across marvelous birds that spend their days fishing in the plentiful waters. One of these birds is the Wandering Albatross – having the largest wingspan of any known bird on the planet. The greatest of these giants’ wingspan can reach up to 3.5 meters (~11.5 feet) in length.
If your Antarctic expedition is lucky enough to encounter an albatross chick, you’ll see what we mean. Even the babies are almost the size of a fully grown adult! They are truly worthy of their reputation as the “bird that made the breeze to blow,” as described in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
#2 The Elephant Seal
Here comes another of those animals in Antarctica that are deserving of their title. This isn’t just the popular run-of-the-meal cutesy seal you might see on the Discovery Channel. Though, they do have some funny facial expressions at times. The Elephant Seal pups look especially cuddly for what you might expect on your Antarctic cruises.
They get their names from the large nose of the male seal, which almost looks like a shorter trunk. Oh, and from the fact that the male can reach almost 4 tons in weight! When you see them, you’ll go “wow” just as much as your kids.
#3 The Gentoo Penguin
Not your average-looking penguin, we’ll tell you that. In fact, the Gentoo Penguin‘s appearance is almost like that of a pigeon. So what exactly is so spectacular about them? Well, let’s say your Antarctica expedition takes place around the time the adults are feeding their chicks. This is around the warmer months.
What you’ll notice is that the chicks are almost bigger than their parents! The Gentoo babies are so fluffy it almost seems like they’re the ones feeding their parents. ☺
#4 The Humpback Whale
Antarctica cruises will have you spend most of the time on a ship. Don’t be surprised if you hear the captain yelling “wow” if a Humpback Whale happens to pass by. These giants -but gentle- creatures have the most beautiful songs that fill the otherwise chilly and quiet atmosphere in the south. You’ll have a whale of a good time!
#5 The Killer Whale
Did you know that the Killer Whale (also known as the orca) is not really a whale? Although some of the deadliest animals in Antarctica, these beautiful giants are actually part of the dolphin family. Keep an ear out for their sharp cries as your Antarctic cruise navigates the icy waters. You might want to cover your eyes if they start hunting for seals, though. It can get a bit messy.
Minke whales are sometimes spotted | © Rinie van Meurs – Oceanwide Expeditions
#6 The Emperor Penguin
Here we have one of the most representative animals in Antarctica. The Emperor Penguins are the cutest things, the birds you might find in desktop wallpapers on your computer. What is so amazing about them is that they choose one mate for life, and stick with them. Of course, your kids will be more interested in the small and fluffy chicks their parents nurture. No Antarctic expeditions should be finished without taking the chance to admire these amazing animals.
#7 The Blue-Eyed Shag
This is a favorite bird of sailors and explorers that depart on perilous Antarctica expeditions. Because the Blue-Eyed Shag‘s feeding grounds are always close to their nests, one can always assume that land is nearby. We don’t need to elaborate on why that is important in some of the most dangerous waters on our blue planet.
In any case, their physical appearance can be quite funny. The blue formation around their eyes gives the impression that they’re always angry about something. Couple that with the thin and long beak gives and you have a very cartoonish look in an otherwise desolate landscape.
#8 The Skunk Dolphin
You didn’t expect to visit Antarctica without encountering some animals with dubious titles, did you? But don’t worry – these dolphins are not given this name because of their stench. The Skunk Dolphin looks like miniature killer whales, and their color patterns give them the appearance of a skunk.
We’re not exactly sure if they do any aquarium-style tricks for people on Antarctic trips. But it’s definitely worthwhile seeing them playfully swim after fish, in pods (packs) as they always do. Keep your cameras at the ready!
#9 The Crabeater Seal
One of the more charming animals in Antarctica, the Crabeater Seal are essentially the puppies of the chilly south. Speaking of pups, if you care to see some seal cubs, you might want to schedule your Antarctica trip at the beginning of fall, September through October. That’s usually the peak pupping period. This species is the most numerous of them all, so there’ll be plenty of chances for you and your family to see the spectacle.
#10 The Blue Whale
The Blue Whales are the only animals in Antarctica we can safely say are bigger than any dinosaur ever was. Oceanwide Expeditions describe them as loners, and it’s probably for the best. Imagine, if you will, that 25 fully grown African elephants suddenly erupted together from the Antarctic Ocean. That’s the only possible way we can describe how overwhelmingly large these behemoths are.
Ultimately, you probably couldn’t miss these gentle giants on your Antarctica trips even if you wanted to. If your youngsters aren’t “wowed” by the blue whale – we don’t know what to tell you!
Question to our readers:
- What are your favorite animals in Antarctica you’ve seen here so far?
- Is there any single animal you love the most? Which one?
- Tell us in the comments section below. We’d love to know!