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Home > What I Know About... > What I Know About...Antarctica

What I Know About...Antarctica

by Jackie Orsulak

Page 1 : Ushuaia

This is a diary of the ultimate field trip for any conservationist. I recently traveled to a world untouched, unaltered and untarnished by mankind. From the city located the furthest south of any city in the world, we cruised to the land of extremes—the great white continent of Antarctica. As decreed by the Antarctica Treaty of 1959, Mother Nature is the only ruler of this land. No single country owns this land. It is owned and shared by all the nations of the earth in the greatest effort of all, to preserve peace and obtain knowledge. In such a world of turmoil, war and destruction, there is no better use of land.

Flat Stanley traveled with us. You will find him in any picture with a red dot in the lower left hand corner. Below is the diary of my expedition to this pure and pristine continent.

Day 1: Ushuaia
We flew into the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia, Argentina. This city is at the very southern tip of South America and is known as the city at el fin del mundo (“the end of the world”). It was initially built to house prisoners, but has become a bustling port welcoming industry and tourism. For many of the travelers weary of the cold snowy winter in the United States, summertime in the southern hemisphere was a welcome relief.

Day 2: Ushuaia
We toured Ushuaia and visited the most southern park in the world, Tierra del Fuego. This park is owned by both Argentina and Chile. It is a beautiful forested area. We saw tranquil water and wild horses. In the afternoon we embarked on our beautiful ship, the Clelia II, and prepared to set sail for Antarctica.

After sailing for six hours in the calm waters of the Beagle Channel, we were in for a rude awakening. We found out the reason the first order of business aboard ship was to "Drake-proof" our rooms. We had entered the notorious Drake Passage. Antarctica is a huge land mass. In summer it is twice the size of the United States, but then it doubles in size in the winter as the ice expands. At the northwestern side of the continent lies the Antarctica Peninsula, much like the peninsula of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Ocean, which flows around it in a clockwise direction. When the water reaches the peninsula, it is forced into the much narrower Drake Channel and becomes much like the whitewater of a river that narrows in its channel. This narrow channel is between the end of the peninsula and South America. This raging water makes the Drake Passage the most treacherous, dangerous and rough water in the world.

The boat began to toss and turn in the waves. Anything that was not secured rolled around the room. There is a reason there were seat belts on the beds. Several people, including Stanley, got seasick. We were really blessed; this was not considered a rough crossing. We had been spared.

Next Page : Through the Drake Passage
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