The Weddell Sea provides stunning scenery, plentiful wildlife and adventure for Antarctic explorers interested in unique itineraries. From iconic sites like the Larsen Ice Shelf to its early Antarctic explorers history – the Weddell Sea is a fantastic option for cruising in Antarctica.
Voyages to the Weddell Sea may include visits to an Emperor Penguin colony. Due to pack ice and the colony’s location, helicopters are required. If you have the time for a longer journey, consider the Ross Sea where Emperor rookeries are dotted along the coastline providing good access for travellers.
Weddell Sea Overview
Geography & Climate
Like much of Antarctica, the Weddell Sea is subject to very strong winds. Here, the winds run along the mountains of the peninsula on the sea’s western front. The cold air carries on north creating large storms and also pushes ice out into the South Atlantic Ocean.
As with most destinations this far south, the warmest months of the year are January and February. Travellers can expect an average temperature of 0° to 1°C.
Orcas, Humpbacks and Minke Whales roam the summer waters of the Weddell Sea. They mingle with other mammals like the Leopard Seal, Weddell Seal and Crabeater Seals. Similar to the Ross Sea, south of the Polar Circle the Adelie Penguins thrive in the difficult, freezing environment. The Weddell Sea is also home to the northernmost Emperor Penguin colony near Snowhill Island.
Voyages to the Weddell Sea will offer similar activities to Antarctica Peninsula cruises. These include zodiacs, kayaking, making landfall and exploring some of the islands, bays and coves in the sea. Some ships offer itineraries specifically to visit the Emperor Penguin colony which require a helicopter flight to fly over the pack ice.
The Weddell Sea offers a diverse range of locations to explore. The sea is home to one of the most accessible Emperor Penguin colonies just south of Snowhill Island and an enormous Adelie Penguin colony just south of the Antarctic Sound. The continent’s fourth largest ice shelf, the Larsen Ice Shelf, can also be explored here.
Larsen Ice Shelf
One of the Weddell Sea’s most iconic sites is the stunning Larsen Ice Shelf. Originally it covered an area over 85,000 km2. Tragically, due to global warming this ice shelf has been reduced to an area of just over 65,000 km2. The ice shelf made news in 2017 when an enormous 5,700 km2 iceberg named A-68 broke away from the main ice shelf.
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