This expert led polar diving, marine life, wildlife and adventure expedition uniquely combines the above and below water exploration of two distinct areas of Antarctica: the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea. Antarctica is one of the most remote and least dived locations in the World and exploration of the Weddell Sea to the east will take pioneering diving a step even further.
The Weddell Sea is home to the World's biggest icebergs and the largest of all penguins: the Emperor penguin, who we hope to visit at Snow Hill. With a total of 12 days on the water, this voyage is longer than most giving precious extra time to explore the White Continent and its stunning scenery and wildlife.
Dry suit divers hope to be richly rewarded by diving in this pioneering marine environment, the Weddell Sea in particular being rarely explored underwater. February is usually an ideal time to see whales and we can may be lucky enough to encounter Weddell seals, crabeater seals, fur seals; and of course one of Antarctica 's top predators: the leopard seal.
Having the opportunity to witness leopard seals ambush and then feed upon their penguin prey underwater is a truly exhilarating and memorable experience. (Click Here to read more about encounters with Leopard seals).
Rather than dive from a hole in the ice, we dive off the edges of ice flows and around spectacular icebergs where we hope to observe penguins from beneath the surface as they plunge en masse into the sea. The ice itself forms one of the special features of diving in Antarctica and the Weddell Sea, where some bergs, trapped by the western flowing current, can exceed 20 miles in length. Four fifths of every berg is submerged and diving permits us to observe their intricately carved forms beneath the water.
The macro marine life in Antarctic waters includes a fascinating array of species you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the World. Giant isopods (10cm) crawl along the seabed like enormous woodlice, 34 armed star-fish in stunning colours hide amongst kelp walls, and shy Antarctic bloodless fish, filled with their own special anti-freeze survive in these waters. There is a little documented about the underwater world of the Weddell Sea and new species are being discovered in Antarctica all the time.
The opportunities for excellent wildlife and landscape photography abound from the moment we slip our moorings. The landscapes of the region are particularly breath-taking: the precipitous peaks, and sweeping glaciers of the Antarctic peninsula combined with the stark drama and enormous ice bergs of the Weddell Sea. The wildlife itself lives up to its reputation of being abundant, and on this trip a host of penguins, Adelie, Gentoo, Chinstrap and perhaps even the largest of them all the Emperor will hopefully join the whales and seals of this incredible area, as a gift to both the professional and amateur photographer alike, above and below the waterline.
For both divers and non-divers, this voyage provides a unique opportunity to see and learn more about the entire polar ecosystem than if on a purely land based expedition. Divers will have the opportunity to participate in zodiac exploration and land excursions after their dives have been completed; or as an alternative to the dives planned on any day.
This voyage is perfect for divers with non-diving partners who are in search of an equally inspiring experience. Each day, all participants will have the opportunity to share experiences, photographs and video footage with the experts and divers who have been exploring below the waterline. To enhance your understanding, there will be a programme of inspiring evening lectures about the wildlife, ecology and history of Antarctica.