The Antarctic opens up in early November for expedition ships. Each season brings a different experience and wildlife behavior. The entire season runs from November to early March.
NOVEMBER: Early summer in Antarctica. Expect to see a lot of winter pack ice that is beginning to melt. You will see very little exposed rock. This also means there could be higher possibility of snow and snowstorms. The penguins are making their way back to land/ice now and starting the process of nesting. This is also the time that you will see seal pups, and lots of activity as the ecosystem comes alive with the early summer sun – breeding colonies being set up, mating activities etc. The whales are just beginning to come into the Antarctic so there are chances of seeing whales (we saw several species!).
DECEMBER: The southern summer will bring longer and warmer days. Penguin eggs are laid during this time, and some even begin to hatch as wildlife is at its active best. You will even see a lot more seals on ice. The ice will be reddish with penguin droppings and nests – making it a great photographing opportunity. Beware of the penguin poo smell that can really put you off!
JANUARY: The penguin chicks hatch in January and you will see many little chicks huddled together in crèches, waiting to be fed. You will also see seal pups. The whales are a lot more active and temperatures are warmer than usual.
Photo credit: http://www.photos-voyages.com/
FEBRUARY/MARCH: The perfect season for whale watching is in February. The ice recedes quite a bit by now, and therefore you get to explore deeper into the Antarctic. In March, the adult penguins moult and the young make their way into the ocean. Most colonies are deserted by the end of March. Winter is coming!
Photo credit: http://www.cbc.ca/homestretch/images/whalefin.jpg