Places I Remember with Lea Lane

Antarctica: Everything You Need To Know, From An Expedition Expert

September 14, 2021 Jason Flesher leads Antarctic expeditions for the discovery yacht Scenic Eclipse, to our awesome 7th continent. He and Lea share amazing facts and extraordinary tales.. Season 1 Episode 33
Places I Remember with Lea Lane
Antarctica: Everything You Need To Know, From An Expedition Expert
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Jason Flesher,  Expedition Team Leader on the discovery yacht Scenic Eclipse, shares all about Antarctica, from the elements to the explorers to experiencing the wonders of the icy continent.
-- Jason tells  how he became an expedition leader, and choosing the best ships to go to Antarctica. He gives us overviews of land and underwater, and talks about camping and budgeting.
-- Lea add s a list of fascinating facts, and they discuss the Drake Passage, with the roughest waters in the world.
-- When to go, being  "snotted on by a whale," explorers including  Shackelton, the race to the South Pole in history and today, climate change, and Jason's special memory of an incredible hunt, round out the episode.
Jason Flesher,  Expedition Team Leader on the discovery yacht Scenic Eclipse, has been traveling to Antarctica for almost 30 years.

Podcast host Lea Lane has traveled to over 100 countries, including Antarctica, written many travel books, including
Places I Remember, and has contributed to dozens of guidebooks. She's @lealane on Twitter, Travelea on Instagram, and  blogs about travel at  Contact her  on her Facebook page, Places I Remember by Lea Lane, and at her website,
Follow  Places I Remember with Lea Lane wherever you listen to podcasts. New travel episodes every Tuesday. And please review it on Apple

* Transcript edited for clarity.

Lea Lane  00:04

Hi, I'm Lea Lane, an award-winning travel writer and author of Places I Remember: Tales, Truths, Delights from 100 Countries. On this podcast we share conversations with travelers about fascinating destinations and memorable experiences around the world. Today we're talking all about our southernmost continent, Antarctica, which is virtually uninhabited and 98% of the landmass is covered in ice. Scenic Cruise’s newedt ocean ship, Scenics Eclipse, sailed its first season in Antarctica in 2019, 2020. Their expedition team leader, Jason Flesher, will tell us what it's like to experience Antarctica aboard to discover yacht and other ways as well. And what it's like to lead groups of travelers on excursions there. Welcome, Jason.


Jason Flesher  00:56

Oh, thank you so much for having me today.


Lea Lane  00:58

Let me first ask you what made you become an expedition leader in in Antarctica, tell me a little bit about your background?


Jason Flesher  01:05

Well, I've been in the outdoor industry now for about 38 years, and both domestically in the United States as well as internationally. And I've also been involved in wilderness and international search and rescue for about 30, 35 years or so. And about 11 years ago, I had gotten invited to go down to Antarctica, there was some guides from Australia that dropped canceled at the last minute on a company. And so somehow my name got thrown out there. And they contacted me and asked if I'd be interested because part of my specialty is also in high altitude mountaineering and cold climates. And I said, Sure, when, and they said, Can you leave in four days? It's like, wow, okay. So that was, that was it, I was hooked. And to be honest with you, ever since I've been going back every year, every season and found a way and that it's so addictive. And it's so magical to see it through the eyes of other people and the guests that we bring down there. And that's why I keep going back.


Lea Lane  02:18

Well, that's wonderful. Would you tell us what's a typical expedition on a ship? I mean, there are different levels, there’s budget to luxury, can you give us some idea of that?


Jason Flesher  02:28

Sure. Well, first, you're going down to Antarctica on an expedition ship. And the reason why you want to go on an expedition ship and not a cruise ship, expedition ships are limited to no more than 200 guests or passengers at a time. And the reason why is Antarctica is managed by IATA, which is the International Antarctic Association. And they limit shore landings to no more than 100 people at a time. And that's to protect the wildlife. And so an expedition ship that has two under people you do a rotation 100 people on shore, while there's 100 people on zodiac, doing Zodiac cruises, and then you rotate, so everyone gets an equal amount of time, on shore as well as on the water. So whereas a cruise ship where you have over 200 guests, three, four or 500 guests, you never go to shore, you only see Antarctica from the ship itself. So one, that's a big difference. And the typical expedition down there as, like I mentioned, you'll have at least two or three excursions a day. You'll get to shore at least once a day, sometimes twice a day to different locations. So after your morning excursion, you'll get back to the ship, you'll have lunch, you'll sail to another place, and then you'll have that rotation again, I'm sure and on the zodiacs, and sometimes you may just do Zodiac cruises, where to go whale watching or to the iceberg graveyards and see beautiful sculptures, you know of the ice from the wind and water itself. So you have those options and opportunities to really explore and see Antarctica and then some of your expedition ships will also have kayaking and paddleboarding, other ways to explore, you know Antarctica from the silence, you know, on the water itself and then to your observed ultra luxury such as onboard Scenic Eclipse, where we have two helicopters, so you can explore from above and I can't tell you getting that perspective that bird's eye perspective of Antarctica because it is the highest, most mountainous continent in the world. So seeing it from above, or we also have a submarine and see it from the lie, you know and see what's down there. 


Lea Lane  04:55

What is down there?


Jason Flesher  04:58

The magical sea creatures of the Southern Ocean, you know, and it's amazing, the rock, the ice fish to the crustaceans that are down there and just really beautiful, unique magical jellyfish that you'd see.


Lea Lane  05:12

Are they colorful? Like they would be in real life?


Jason Flesher  05:16

Yeah, very colorful, the jellyfish and then some of the crustaceans down below the fish not so much. But yeah, some of the creatures down there are just stunning, you know to see and when I did my dive itself was down around Elephant Island, which was pretty special too. So that's, you know a little bit of Expedition down to Antarctica some of the options and also some of the companies where you can camp, though you'll spend the night out on the ice itself. So you have that opportunity to camp and one thing to just put out there is depending on your budget, to go to Antarctica would really determined what type of ship you would want to go on some ships. If you're on a shoestring budget that you want to get down there, that's great. But you would then have to pay for those add ons of kayaking, paddleboarding, camping, on the ship amenities you would pay extra for where as you kind of go up the ladder, so to speak into the ultra luxury side of things, or the luxury side, more of those options are inclusive, so it's part of your package where you don't pay extra for. So it just depends on your budget, and your goals of what you want to see in Antarctica.


Lea Lane  06:39

Right? It sounds wonderful either way. We'll talk a little bit more about some of the adventures in a little while I did collect a bunch of facts about Antarctica, because it's a little bit unknown to most of us, including me, I did go once and I went on a ship, I did not get to do these wonderful things you're talking about. I would love to go back and do them someday. But let's just talk about some of the facts. And you can jump in anytime you want. If you want to add something the size of Antarctica, it's 5480 3 million square miles. It's the fifth largest continent, nearly twice the size of size of Australia. But only about 1000 people live there in winter and maybe 5000 In the summer, according to what I read at research stations. It's quite amazing. It's the coldest, the driest, the windiest continent. I think the lowest natural air temperature ever recorded was minus 128.6 Fahrenheit. Did you come close to that, Jason?


Jason Flesher  07:43

Yeah. I've heard down to 157. But I was also down in Antarctica several years ago, where we broke a record, a temperature record where it got into close to about 72, 73 degrees.


Lea Lane  08:00

Oh my goodness.


Jason Flesher  08:04

Trust me, we're in T shirts. 


Lea Lane  08:07

I don't like it in a way. I know what that means, in a way. Right?


Jason Flesher  08:12

It shouldn't be. But you know, when I was living near Lake Tahoe at the time, it was much colder in the Sierra mountains. Then when I was down in Antarctica, where it was, you know, in the low 70s, high 60s,


Lea Lane  08:24

Right. Well, you were there in the summer, which is of course their summer, which is our winter. I remember when I went, I think it was November. It was cold. We were in New York than it was in Antarctica. When I when I got off the plane. I thought Oh, my It's cold. They're active. They're active volcanoes. Have you been to some of those? Well, yeah,


Jason Flesher  08:46

You know, it's very active down there. And deception Islands, which is pretty amazing, because it's a volcanic islands. And the caldera collapsed a long time ago, so ships can actually sail.


Lea Lane  09:04

Yes, I did that I did that on the ship. I remember seeing the remains of the eruption, I think was from 1970. And it's still full of you know, because it's so cold. I guess it keeps it maintains the same look that it had originally, but it was it was very interesting to see the difference between that terrain and the rest of the ice. There are also rivers and lakes have you been on the Onyx which is the longest river in the Arctic, it's probably hard to get to, ya know. Maybe next time, maybe next time, let's let's go into some rivers. 


Jason Flesher  09:41

Not the rivers but some of the mountains down there. 


Lea Lane  09:44

Yeah, let's go way back for a second. More than 100 million years ago, Antarctica was part of the super continent called Gondwana. And it was not always cold or dry or covered in ice. It was farther north and from what I read it was tropical or temperate, cold. I read for a while and it was even covered in forest. Do you know about that?


Jason Flesher  10:04

Yeah, they found many false dinosaur fossils, they found tree fossils down there. If you go down into the wood delsey side, it's very fossil rich in that area. And, and that's where they've made many discoveries. And that's where actually, when they had discovered these fossils, realizing, at that time, the connection to South America, and that it was a tropical area, before the continent split apart. Yeah,


Lea Lane  10:32

That's amazing. Gondwana gradually broke apart. And that was about 25 million years ago, and the Drake Passage opened up between it and South America. That's where the Atlantic and the Pacific come together. And it's considered the most difficult waters. In all the oceans. People who make the passage are called Horners. And I proudly have a certificate. What was your rough passage there? Did you have some some bad ones?


Jason Flesher  11:00

Um, I've had some good, you know, Drake shakes and some good Drake lakes. That was I've been in where we've had over five meter swells crossing the Drake, so it was quite entertaining, and especially on some of the ships because I've been on many different ships at the time. And many of your older expedition ships aren't we're not originally expedition ships. Some were car ferries. Some were Russian tank fairies, converted. So the stabilization is not quite there. Versus like, Eclipse was made for the Drake, so it's super stable. But it's yeah, it's definitely entertaining. Crossing what but many guests, you know, there is a great fear of the Drake. And so they've created these, what they call her flying cruises. Now we're actually from Punta dreariness and Chile, you can fly to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands, and then pick up the ship there and avoid the drink. But to be honest with you, the fear, it shouldn't be a fear, you know, sometimes it's rough, but ships with today's technology, and whether there's times where we'll leave Antarctica day early, or stay a day later, to let a storm pass through, because they pass through very quickly through the Drake Passage. And it's really not that bad. You're only talking about a day and a half to two days, if you have a Drake shake, so to speak. And the best remedies is you lay in bed, you know, stay flat, that's the best thing to do. And you'll get through it. It's okay, the ships not going to sink the ships not gonna tip over anything. It'll be a little rolly. But you'll get through it.


Lea Lane  12:53

I think many, many people don't want to do this trip because of the fear. And I know I was kind of afraid of it. But on my ship, which was a little bit bigger. They showed movies, really terrible passages to sort of get the people excited, I guess I don't know. I didn't like it. Expedition. It's part of the layout of the expedition. And I had a wristband, and I had Dramamine. And I got into bed and all of that, and it was smooth as glass. And I went up to the observation deck, and I looked at Cape Horn coming toward me, it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, but it was like a lake.


Jason Flesher  13:30

So it depends. It really does depend. It's hit or miss. hit or miss.


Lea Lane  13:34

Here's something maybe you don't know, or maybe you do. And article was originally called Australia, did you know that? There was a woodcut illustration in 1545 that showed that. And then in the early 19 century, the country of Australia took their name from the south polar continent, leaving it nameless for 80 years. So geographers were searching for various names, and one of them was called Ultima. Another was anti boat, DIA. That sounds like a drug. I'm glad they didn't name it, those things. Eventually, Antarctic was adopted as a continental name, but only in the 1890s. That's really interesting. They named it that. Yes. Isn't that interesting? They named it Antarctica, just recently, relatively recently, because


Jason Flesher  14:20

It's not the Arctic. So it's the Antarctic. Right.


Lea Lane  14:23

Right. But we would have been calling it Ultima. Like a cigarette ultimate. Tell us some about a sea life that you've found in Antarctica?


Jason Flesher  14:37

Well, you know, that's a great question. Because most of the wildlife are migratory, to come down to Antarctica for their summer and they're down there to feed on krill. There are only a very few species of wildlife that are actually Around inhabitants of Antarctica and only one penguin species. So if you know I think What you want to see in Antarctica depends on when you go to Antarctica. So in regards to the wildlife, if you want to see penguins, you know and the babies, the penguins sitting on their eggs and the and the babies hatching or you may want to see emperor penguins, then you want to go early in the season November or very early December to mid December is when you're going to see the penguins cording sitting on their nest the eggs, the eggs hatching, because the the babies will grow very, very quickly. If you want to see whales if whales are, you know your choice of wildlife, you want to see them as they're coming down to feed on the krill, then usually, around Christmas time to early February is the best time for your whale spotting because that's when they're all down there. They're all feeding their younger down there. The orcas are down there hunting, you know as well. So everyone all the wildlife down there Christmas to early February then come early February, mid February, the whales are start conjugating to then head back north. So the later in the season, mid February to early March, you're not gonna you'll still see some whales, but you're not gonna see much. Same with the penguins at that point. The young have gotten their waterproof feathers, and they're already starting their migration as well. So you won't see as much in that time period, you'll see some, but the weather is also less stable come mid February on as well. So it's hit or miss with the weather. And what you'll see that timeframe. So between the seals, seals will be there November especially if you want to see seal pups and you want to see the first seal pups being born. Or you want to see the elephant seals according that beach masters, the massive, you know, six ton elephant seals, then November, December is the best time because after they're done cording and impregnating, then the beach masters will leave come early December. But then you have the wieners which are so cute the baby elephant seals, because then the mothers have left at that point and they've weaned the babies, but they call them wieners. Because they've weaned but they don't know to go to see yet to go hunting. So they're just on the beach floundering What do I do what I do, and until they get hungry enough, that's when they'll leave for sea. So they're curious to the humans, you know, and one thing which is magnificent about Antarctica, if wildlife you want to see, then you need to go because it's the largest wildlife refuge in the world. So you can't hunt in Antarctica. So there's no fear of humans, it's curiosity. So you'll have the penguins, the seals come up to you, you know, just curious of you the whales, when you're in a zodiac, and the whales will come Spy Hop, right? Next year's zodiac, because they want to see what you are because they don't know what you are or, and I can't tell you. So few people in the world can ever say they've been snotted on by a whale come up next to you. And when they blow, you know, it's not just water they're blowing. And especially if a whale has a cold you'll get snotted on. But I'll tell you right now that so few less than 1% have gone to Antarctica can actually say they've been snotted on by a whale.


Lea Lane  18:30

How many times how many times have you been snotted on?


Jason Flesher  18:34

Five times.


Lea Lane  18:35

Oh my goodness.


Jason Flesher  18:36

I mean, you'll never forget those experiences so bad. In a way.


Lea Lane  18:40

It's a way literally. It's just, It's magical. The way you're describing it, I just I can't get over it. I think the one time I was there, I did feel that I was in another realm. I was not in a human realm. I was a guest. It was a very special feeling. People asked me what's so special. One of the things is how you feel you feel like you're a guest you're not you're not the person who's in charge here. You're visiting, and you feel it. Let me ask you about the most famous say the South Pole. Have you made it there? You're not, are you planning to or hoping to?


Jason Flesher  19:18

You know, I had an opportunity a few years ago to go on an expedition it was going to be an expedition on totally on renewable energy to get there and skiing across the continent itself. And unfortunately, at the last minute things have fallen through with the expedition. So I haven't had another opportunity. So if it comes up, absolutely.


Lea Lane  19:39

How long would it take? You know what sort of preparation


Jason Flesher  19:44

It was going to be while the preparation, my training, I was training for a year and a half for it pulling tire, literally pulling, you know, a truck tire connected to a backpack you know, because the single SUV truck tire would have equates to about 150 pounds of resistance, which would have been the weight of pulling the sled. And so there's a year and a half of that. And then of course, getting the sponsors and the equipment and blah, blah, everything. And then the total expedition would have taken about 60 days. Wow. Well,


Lea Lane  20:18

Antarctica was the last region on Earth to be discovered. We can talk a little bit about some of the explorers. There was Captain Kirk, who came by in 1773. In 1774, he didn't get on the land, he just came close to it and saw that it was there. And then in 1820, a Russian came by and he noticed that as well. First time that land was found it was an 1848, United States exploring expedition and a friend sex French expedition got on land for a little while. But the first confirmed landing was by a team of Norwegians in 1895. The ones we know about most are the Shackleton expedition, and then the race to get to the pole by allanson. And Scott, do you know a little bit about Shackleton? Can you tell us about what happened there?


Jason Flesher  21:09

Sure. I mean, as you said, I mean, it's one of the most famous stories and, you know, and the stories of leadership. And so with the Shackleton tried a few times to get to Antarctica. And on one of his last journeys is when endurance, the ship itself, got stuck in the with LC, by the ice pack, and it was one of the worst ice packs in history at that time. So they were going to have to, they never made it to the lands, they were going to have to winter over in the ice pack. And then eventually, to make a very, very long story short, the ice pack did crush their ship, and where it did sink. And so they were able to of course, get everything they needed off the ship, get their dories life boats off the ship, and they started pulling it across the ice pack itself. Now keep in mind, the ice pack is just frozen seawater, and because in the Waddell sea, it's a big current, so the ice pack spins. So as they kept pulling their dories and their equipment across the ice pack thinking, you know, to get to the continent, or get to an island. At the same time while they're moving. So is the ice pack spinning. So there was times where, not that they're going in circles, but they weren't making much headway. Eventually they found the open water. They got, you know, on their three Dorries and headed towards elephant islands, once they under, you know, with their Sexton and navigation and everything, where they finally got to land and decided we can't go any further. And at that point, you know, Shackleton and some of his senior officers said, We got to make it for South Georgia, because South Georgia at that time was the only place where the whaling stations were where they knew people were envious where they left from. So the few of them converted, one of the dories beefed it up. And one of the most amazing stories, the rest of the crew was left behind that they made, I think it was close to 800 mile journey to South Georgia where the navigator only had no more than three two to three times where they spotted the sun the entire time to get a navigational, you know, with the sexton and got him to South Georgia. And think of it as the finding the pinpoint of a needle in the haystack to get South Georgia. And they did it. And then it took him months later to actually get a ship back to rescue his crew, which not one perished. They were able to rescue the entire crew. They survived because of his leadership, because of the things that he did, to inspire the team to inspire it. And there's so many books, so many stories, even the lessons of Shackleton, which to this day is still part of any leadership training. And he's buried in South Georgia in Grytviken, where to this day any expedition ship that goes to South Georgia, you go to the grave site of him and his captain there and you have a toast of his favorite scotch, you know, and you pour a little on the grave and you learn about a story and have a little shot of his Scotch at the gravesite.


Lea Lane  24:38

It's a remarkable story of perseverance and survival. And his boat was named the endurance. Let me just ask you about the race to the South Pole and we know about that between the Norwegian Amundsen and the British Scott. And can you just tell us briefly how that turned out? No.


Jason Flesher  24:57

Well, Armisen was going from the widow sea side and that was originally the way Shackleton was trying to go to. And then Scott and Shackleton decided to go from the, at that time, the Rossi side. And so what was amazing was they left all three parties left roughly around the same time. And Shackleton and Scott, who left on the Rossi side, pretty parallel to each other, but Scott had to jump ahead, Scott did reach the pole. First, he was the first to reach the pole. And Shackleton didn't make it at that time. And so what an up happening was Shackleton end up having to turn around at the time, and found Scott's flag. And then Scott, on the return getting back, he was only days days away from reaching back to the Ross Sea when he reached his hut. And there's only a few of them left alive. And unfortunately, some come to the elements, they got caught in a storm and couldn't finish the journey and died. You know, on the way back? Yeah, like I said, only days away from reaching the edge.


Lea Lane  26:18

I think it's very hard to do it even today. I was reading that. There aren't that many crossings across the whole continent, even with kites, how would you do it with kites? I was reading that that's one way to do it.


Jason Flesher  26:30

You know, it's not just kites. People have mountain bike that now. It's a solo journeys now. Basically, it's like kiteboarding on the water, but kite skiing. So it's the same parafoil type kite that's used for kite boarding in the ocean. That's used for pulling across on skis,


Lea Lane  26:50

how common is it to get to the South Pole. Now how many people do it?


Jason Flesher  26:54

I hate to say it's becoming more and more common.


Lea Lane  26:57

Like Mt. Everest, right? It's one of the things to do.


Jason Flesher  27:00

Not quite, but it's very similar. And so the first female recently has done it. There's mountain bikers. Now with the big fat tires, I've done it, there's solo journeyers. There's people who have done the full crossing of the continent, starting from the widow see, to the pole to the Rossi. I don't want to say it's become gimmicky. But people are trying to find ways to do it. That's never been done before. But the thing to understand is, even though they say it's unsupported, it's still supported in a way because now there's GPS coordinates checkpoints along the way. There's caches of food caches stashed for you because planes will come in. Plus, you always have a rescue if needed. So the true sense of unsupported is not necessarily in the raw expedition, Shin side of it, you're not alone. You have radio communication, you have GPS, you have an emergency evac, so but people are still trying to find ways that haven't been done before. They're the first to do it that way.


Lea Lane  28:03

Exactly. Let me ask you about climate change. Do you have any comment about you know, we read about the ice shelf and the warming temperatures up to 65 degrees? You said 70 something one day when you were there, and what do you feel is going on right now?


Jason Flesher  28:19

It's horrible because you know, of my 11 years going down there, I see the shift you're seeing more and more rock exposed now you're seeing more and more greenery more like and more grasses, more algae is growing. They're having algae blooms now not only in the water, but also on land, the snow algae that you see, you're also the wildlife you're seeing more and more of the penguins, you know, having to go further south, their normal rookeries being encroached upon by other species of penguins. Now, the Adelies, so to speak, are getting pushed out Who are your one year round inhabitants is now getting pushed. So the wildlife itself is being affected? Adversely plus, it's raining more in Antarctica rather than snowing in Antarctica, the winds, the warm winds that come from South America now and this is what's creating the melt of the ice shells and the ice is you're getting the warm winds over western Antarctica the peninsula so it's melting on the top that the sea water is also rising is the fastest rising sea water temperature so the shells are being melted from the ocean as well. And that's why you're getting those massive sea ice breaks the ice shelf breaks now because it's being melt from the top and bottom.


Lea Lane  29:45

Any suggestions? I mean, we just did an episode on green travel and I suppose it's the same suggestions as usual, to cut down on carbon and


Jason Flesher  29:55

Well that's it. There's one of the companies I worked for many years is called 24 One Expedition founded by Robert Swan. And Rob was the first person to travel to both poles by on foot, the Arctic and Antarctica. And this was back in the 80s. And so his mission and Jacque Cousteau bestowed upon him actually, was to protect Antarctica and build awareness of Antarctica and the climate change. So the people, we have a charter ship and the people who take from all over the world, you have to show firsthand effects of climate change, to help understand because Antarctica is the barometer of the world. So it's a yo yo effect. So what's happening down there, radiates back to the rest of the world. So what we're creating by the pollution and the carbon, everything in the rest of the world, then is affecting, because you know, the ozone, the lack of the note, the ozone hole in Antarctica, is yo yo in downtown Antarctica. And then because the ice melt, the freshwater going into Antarctica, the wildlife being affected is reverberating back to the rest of the world of what we're creating. So by showing people that firsthand effect of what's happening in Arctica, then they're understanding this is what I'm doing even in North America that's affecting, you know, Antarctica itself. And so now they go back, and we had people on board to help them write proposals to lower their carbon footprint of their part of the world. So we've had CEOs and managers of Coca Cola, the we actually have the airport managers of Abu Dhabi, when they were building the world's largest airport. And now, after going down there, they went back to their architects at that time, and now their conveyor belts, the luggage belts are all run on solar, where that wasn't the original plan. And universities are going solar buses and, uh, you know, electric buses, things like that. So, that's the things that are happening now. But you have to see it firsthand to understand what you're creating, to now go back and make the change.


Lea Lane  32:06

Right? Well, the name of the podcast is Places I Remember, and Antarctica is certainly a trip that no one forgets. But tell us one of your most memorable experiences of your many memorable experiences.


Jason Flesher  32:20

I think one that I'll never forget, I was on the Zodiac and we're doing a Zodiac cruise to look at the wildlife, the whales and so on. And it just so happened that there was a pod of orcas swimming around. And all of a sudden, we realized there was a pod and there was several young with the pod of orcas. And the first thing we saw was, there were some penguins on ice. And all of a sudden, we see three male orcas swim side by side each other towards that little ice. It was it was flat ice that the penguins were on. And just as they were about to get to the ice, they dove beneath it. And by diving beneath it, they created a wave that flipped the ice over that put the penguins into the water. And then the Chase was on and just watching them chasing the penguins. corralling the penguins to then the young came in. So what they were doing was teaching their young how to hunt. And then after that was over, then all of a sudden, there was a seal, there was a Crabeater seal in the water. And next thing we started noticing, and at this point, our engines were off, you know, the whole time. Okay, watching this right in front of us happening. And then all of a sudden, we notice they started playing with the seal and getting the seal feeling comfortable. And you almost like befriending the seal. And then as they're playing with it and swimming alongside and everything. And as a seal was feeling more comfortable. We noticed. They started getting rougher with the seal and started pushing the seal a little bit. And then they started flipping it out of the water and getting a little more aggressive with the seal, and then to the point where they would stun it. And then all son of the Young would come in and we realized oh my gosh, they were literally what was happening in front of us. They were teaching their young how to hunt. And this all acid about with the penguins in the seals about an hour and a half. And you have to understand, yes, we watched them hunt the seal in everything in the penguins. But this is nature unfolding in front of you. The baby orca had the seal in its mouth right underneath our zodiac and the penguin at one time jumped onto our zodiac before it went back in the water. It's just nature unfolding in front of you and no one else in the world can you feel as safe, but experience such experiences is that I'll never forget get that feeling I'll never forget that experience. I'll never forget everyone in the zodiacs, their jaws just dropped. And it was so hard to pick up your camera to get photos. I got photos of it, because it's happening in front of you. So the one thing I'll leave you with, I'll guarantee you, if you go to Antarctica, the rest of your life anytime you look at a globe or a map, the first place your eyes will always go to is straight down to Antarctica, and you're gonna wonder, how am I going to get back there again?


Lea Lane  35:30

Beautiful. Thank you so much, Jason Flesher, Expedition team leader, the Scenic Eclipse, for sharing this beautiful dream with us, a dream that can be achieved with guidance from people like you.


Jason Flesher  35:45

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It's my pleasure.


Lea Lane  35:53

Thanks for sharing travel memories with us. My book, Places I Remember, is available on Amazon and in bookstores, in print, on Kindle, and I read the audio version. Please subscribe to this podcast and consider giving us a review. Until next time, join us wherever in the world we're going.


Why Jason become an expedition leader
Typical expedition on a ship --why not a cruise ship?
See it from above -- and underwater
Camping on the ice
Budget matters
Unusual facts about Antarctica
The Drake Passage -- roughest waters in the world
Oddest fact of all
Sealife -- when to go
"Snotted on by a whale" and other amazing experiences
The South Pole
Earliest explorers
The tale of Shackelton and The Endurance
Race to the South Pole, including Scott and Amundson
Modern ways to get to the Pole
Climate change -- and what's being done
Jason's special memory -- an incredible hunt