While most students and teachers have gone off to places with warmer climates during Winter break, I had the opportunity to visit Antarctica via a cruiseliner called Silverseas. Situated in the southernmost part of Earth, this continent consists of several ice-covered islands surrounded by the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean.
It was an incredible experience to be in a place almost completely untouched by humans and civilization. There were only animals, glistening ice, jagged rocks, and some kelp. Virtually no man-made objects were in sight, except an occasional research center here and there. As I walked along the beaten paths, only a few feet away from some wandering penguins, it felt as if I was hand-in-hand with Mother Nature.
My eyes bore witness to many types of penguins: Rockhoppers, Gentoos, Adelies, Chinstraps, and even Macaronis. Each had a unique trait to make it easy to identify, such as yellow hairs on its head or a black marking across its face. Every species of penguin formed giant colonies, in which thousands of them waddled around and tended to their eggs. Upon seeing a colony for the first time, I was dazzled.
During my time on the islands, I also came across a couple seals lying practically motionless on the ice. They were larger than I had expected, but their size didn’t make them any less cute. Looking at the seals, I was reminded of myself during weekends; lazy and unwilling to show many signs of vitality.
In the clear skies, birds -namely albatrosses- showed off their one-meter wingspans as they glided freely around Antarctica. I didn’t see many of them, but every I did, a sense of wonder fell over me. Their gracefulness, in my opinion, is unrivaled by any other bird; the crows and seagulls in Vancouver pale in comparison.
Leaving civilization behind was at first a frightening idea. But with every day I spent in Antarctica, I felt more and more revitalized as I noticed nature’s gifts. In every other continent lies human life, but in this southernmost one, Mother Nature reigns.
By: Elsia Sung