Antarctica includes the continent, the fifth largest, the surrounding Southern Ocean and the 19 peri-antarctic islands. The southern most tip of South America is the nearest continental landmass, some 900 kilometers away. Antarctica, south of 60º, is subject to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, which currently has 47 signature countries. It regulates activities in the region. Apart from the northern end of the Peninsula, the Antarctic Continent lies within the polar circle, a line drawn 23º 27′, north from the South Pole (or 66º 33′ south). The South Pole is 2835 meters above sea level and almost all of this is ice. The mainland was first sighted in 1820. In 1899, the Southern Cross expedition under Carsten Borchgrevinck was the first deliberate wintering-over in Antarctica at Cape Adare. The Southern Ocean teams with wildlife, with krill as the basis of the food chain. The ocean supports a wealth of fish, seal, whale and seabird species. Of the seven Antarctic species of penguins, adelies, chinstraps and emperors are confined largely to the pack ice, south of the Antarctic Convergence.
‘South of the Circle’ follows the voyage of an icebreaker from Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, across the Drake Passage to the Peninsula. Reaching the calmer waters of the Gerlache Strait, she journeys south through the Lemaire Channel. There are on-deck celebrations when the Antarctic Circle is crossed. After a landing on Stonington Island and a cruise through Marguerite Bay, the icebreaker continues through the Bellingshausen Sea to reach the peri-antarctic island of Peter 1. Cutting her way through the pack ice, she eventually reaches the staggering Ross Ice Shelf. One of the highlights of such a voyage is a visit to Scott and Shackleton’s huts on Ross Island. The modern American base at McMurdo and New Zealand’s Scott Base are nearby. Conditions are favourable for a landing at Cape Washington to see emperor penguins. Adelie penguins can be seen at Cape Adare. This is the last continental landing, before the voyage ends at the port of Lyttelton, New Zealand.
John Myers Photographic lures you to the frozen South. A visit to Antarctica is an adventurous and rewarding experience. It has been a privilege to make the semi-circumnavigation of the Continent. You leave with awe and admiration for those early explorers to the region. It truly was the Heroic Age.
Running time is approximately 55 minutes.