While looking around for some more abandoned places to post about, it struck me that one of the most desolate but beautiful areas on the planet was one I was ignoring: Antarctica. Believed to have existed since the classical age, this inhospitable continent was not actually “discovered” until the late 1700s. Formal observation by the Russians in 1820 led to this desolate landmass being finally firmly included in maps more accurately. Antarctica is the one continent that hosts no permanent human habitation and was never settled by or claimed by any humans until well within the historical era (humans were “native” to or found on every other continent: North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. You could even find humans living quite happily in the Arctic circle).
So, with no stains of conquest or industry, Antarctica is not only a great place to see some truly unique sights, it’s also a place that every landscape or wildlife photographer should visit in order to really test their mettle and toughness. With average temperatures never getting above 59 degrees on the coast during the summer, it’s hardly a vacation destination. Instead, mostly scientists, wildlife photographers, and researchers make the trek to this wild and untamed continent to study its history, ecology, wildlife, and to learn more about the Earth’s ancient past.
Antarctica is the best place to find penguins (though they are found throughout the southern hemisphere). Penguins are one of the few creatures to have no innate fear of humans and often will waddle up to visitors but not approaching them too closely (visitors are encouraged to keep at least 3 meters of space between them and any penguins).
And, in case you’re wondering (like some of us here at Beach Camera were) why Antarctica is so much colder than the Arctic, it’s because Antarctica sits on a continent instead of floating on top of the water (the Arctic Ocean keeping the temperature of the northernmost ice sheet warmer than one would expect) and because the average elevation on Antarctica is over a mile up (the glaciers are about 1.2 miles thick). So, without the ocean beneath it and with it being about the highest point on Earth, Antarctica is pretty cold and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Have you ever gotten the chance to see this remote continent? Would you go for a visit (and take your camera) if you could? Let us know in the comments below!
– da Bird