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Wildlife Photography Trip with Scuba Diving Option
“The Antarctica trip had always intrigued me. In fact, I was consumed with the dream of going to Antarctica for many years. In 1976, I decided to make the dream a reality and joined three friends as we set sail on a 72-foot Catch delivering this vessel from Australia to Argentina. However, a three-week gale storm with 100 mph winds, 50-foot towering waves and temperatures below zero foiled our attempt to visit this alluring and prized destination."
"We didn't reach our destination as we were more concerned with survival and delivering the vessel. This experience, still so vividly ingrained in my memory, fueled my desire to visit Antarctica. Through the years I became consumed by the dream till.... on January 14, 2002 I will attempt the trip again! This time, better prepared, I will be on board an ice strengthened vessel which is fully equipped for diving and of course, with a few cameras at hand..."
Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands are some of the truly unspoiled regions of the world. The mysterious White Continent, with its multi-colored icecaps, glistening glaciers and towering snow-capped mountains, offers unparalleled scenery and photographic opportunities. A large population of penguins, whales, seals, orcas (killer whales), and seabirds congregate in the food-rich waters along the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic shores.
See the story “Frozen Under” in the National Geographic December, 2001 issue - a very good story and images about Antarctica and ice diving, by Roff Smith with photography by Maria Stenzel.
For our scuba diving expedition to Antarctica, our 210 foot, specially designed expedition vessel, “Aleksey Maryshev,” is built of steel with an ice-strengthened hull, an anti-roll system and is powered by twin 1700 horsepower engines - perfect for polar seas explorations.
Oceanwide Expedition from the Netherlands pioneered sport diving in Antarctica five years ago under the leadership of a very good friend on mine, Goran Ehlme from Sweden. Goran and I know each other from our mutual work in the past ten years in Norway filming and photographing Killer Whale behavior.
The Antarctica scuba diving and wildlife photography trip takes full advantage of the 24 hours of daylight during the austral summer and the presence of most birds on the ice shore and marine mammals by the coastline.
Our trip starts at Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. From there, we sail along the Beagle Channel and south across the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands. Here we visit Penguin Island on the southern shore of King George Island, before going on to Hannah Point, with its Elephant Seal colony and many different species of Penguins. Deception Island has a volcanic crater entered from the sea through the narrow passage known as Neptune’s Bellows. At paradise Bay, we set foot on the Antarctic Continent. We then sail through the narrow and spectacular Lamaire Channel. Mountains and glaciers surround the channel, which is frequently visited by several species of whales, Minke, Humpback and possibly the enormous Blue whale as they journeying up and down the sheltered Antarctic Peninsula waterway.
Sailing south to the Penguin rookeries at Pleneau, and on to visit Petermann Island, the most southerly site for Gentoo Penguins, we have good chance here of seeing Minke Whales, Leopard Seals and Weddell Seals. South, beyond the Polar Circle, we sail into the beautiful Crystal Sound, full of glaciers flowing between the high mountains.
Then we turn north to visit Wiencke Island, with its sheltered anchorage at port Lockroy, the site of a secret British wartime base. Beautiful Weddell Seals abound and whale bones on shore testify to whaling times now past. Next, we sail through Neumayer Channel, to the Melchior Islands and on through the Gerlache Strait to Trinity Island. Finally, we re-cross the Drake Passage to Ushuaia and return safely back home”.
- Amos Nachoum
Photograph by Amos Nachoum