10 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Ross Sea
Are you looking to find ‘off the beaten path Antarctica’? Look no further than the remote and rarely visited Ross Sea region. The Ross Sea was named after Sir James Clark Ross who discovered the sea in 1841 and is home to abundant wildlife, the largest ice shelf in the world and is the closest open water to the South Pole.
The Ross Sea is as remote as remote gets.
Shrouded in mystery and thick pack ice the Ross Sea is cut off from the world for majority of the year. In the short Antarctic summer the thick ice will finally give way, allowing access to the Earth’s most remote and pristine waters. Doesn’t get much more off the beaten path than this. The only thing around to bother you are the next culprit on the list.
The nutrient packed waters of the Ross Sea support a plethora of plankton which allow for its waters to be teaming with wildlife. 10 mammal species, 6 bird species, 95 species of fish and over 1,000 invertebrates are known to frequent the Ross Sea. Some of the stars of the Ross Sea wildlife scene include: Adelie & Emperor Penguins, Weddell, Leopard & Crabeater Seals, Skua, Antarctic & Snow Petrel, Antarctic Toothfish, and Killer & Antarctic Minke whales.
The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest in the world.
Coming in at nearly the size of France the Ross Ice Shelf is 487,000 square kilometers of solid ice (188,000 square miles). The ice shelf covers a large portion of the southern reaches of the Ross Sea as well as all of Roosevelt Island.
As close to Mars as you can get.
Did you know Antarctica is home to one of the most inhospitable, extreme deserts on Earth? Welcome to the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Scientists consider the Dry Valleys to be the closest terrestrial environment to that which exists on Mars. Even weirder is the blood waterfall located on Taylor Glacier here in the Dry Valleys.
Follow in the footsteps of some of Antarctica’s most famous explorers. Borchgrevink, Scott and Shackleton all led expeditions in the Ross Sea. Cape Adare, Cape Evans, Hut Point and Cape Royds all house well preserved historic huts important to the legacy of exploration of the most remote continent.
Ice, Ice…. You know the rest.
Imagine waking up to a sea of pancake ice surrounding you and giant icebergs teaming with penguins and seals staring right back at you. This is an all-to-regular occurrence here.
The Pristine Nature.
Owing to its remote location, the Ross Sea is home to some of the cleanest waters and untouched, raw nature on Earth. Its even gained the nickname of ‘The Last Ocean’.
The Ross Sea is the world’s largest marine reserve.
In October 2016 an agreement was finally reached which will protect 1.5 million square kilometers (983,00 sq. miles) of the Ross Sea, that of which no fishing will be allowed in 1.1 million square kilometers of the marine reserve. Read more on the agreement here.
See Science Live in Action.
In the heart of McMurdo Sound sits McMurdo Station (US) and Scott Station (New Zealand). And nearby Terra Nova Bay is home to Gondwana Station (Germany), Jang Bogo Station (South Korea) and Mario Zuchelli Station (Italy). If you’re lucky enough to get clearance you can visit these stations and find out what the scientists down here do and get a peak into their super remote lives.
The world’s Southernmost active volcano.
It’s a land of fire and ice. Mt. Erebus has been active for roughly the last 1.3 million years. Erebus is located on Ross Island towering around its inactive neighbors- Mt. Terror, Mt. Bird and Mt. Terra Nova.
Need any more convincing?
If you’re ready for a once-in-a-lifetime style adventure and to meet some of the most interesting fellow travelers out there Antarctica, particularly the Ross Sea are the place for you. I have just returned from Oceanwide Expedition’s Spectacular Ross Sea Crossing. Check out the sailings they have coming up for next season, it’s never to early to start planning!
*I traveled onboard Oceanwide Expeditions´s vessel M/V Ortelius sailing South to visit the Ross Sea as an independent press & media representative. All these opinions are my own, but trust me, the Ross Sea impressed far far more than it disappointed.