I traveled on board the M/V Ortelius sailing to the Ross Sea and Antarctica as an independent press & media representative in partnership with Oceanwide Expeditions. All these opinions are my own but trust me, the Ross Sea impressed far more than it disappointed.

10 Reasons To Visit The Ross Sea

Updated August 2023, 10 Reasons To Visit The Ross Sea was originally written in April 2017

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.

Start planning your Antarctic expedition here: The Antarctica Travel Guide

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1. The Ross Sea Is As Remote As It Gets

Shrouded in mystery and thick pack ice the Ross Sea is cut off from the world for a 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 is the next culprit on the list.

Ross Sea, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, ice
Can’t beat these wide-open vistas

Check out wildlife and more on Franklin Island

2. The Wildlife

The nutrient-packed waters of the Ross Sea support a plethora of plankton which allows for its waters to be teaming with wildlife. Ten mammal species, six 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.

Ross Sea, Antarctica, Emperor penguin, penguin
An Ice floe fit for an emperor… penguin, that is

See why McMurdo Sound should be on your travel bucketlist

3. The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest in the world

Coming in at nearly the same size as the country 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.

Ross Ice Shelf, Ice Shelf, Ross Sea, Antarctica
The famed Ross Ice Shelf

4. As Close To Mars On Earth 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 McMurdo Dry Valleys.

Taylor Dry Valley, Taylor Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Hovering above Taylor Glacier, in the southernmost of the three McMurdo Dry Valleys- Taylor Valley

See more: A guide to the McMurdo Dry Valleys

5. The Fascinating History

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.

Scott Hut, Cape Evans, Antarctica, Ross Sea
Inside of Scott Hut, Cape Evans

Check out 10 reasons why you need to visit Antarctica

6. Ice, Ice… You Know The Rest

Imagine waking up to a sea of pancake ice surrounding you and giant icebergs teeming with penguins and seals staring right back at you. This is an all-to-regular occurrence here.

Cape Adare, Icebergs, Iceberg, Antarctica, Borchgrevink, Ross Sea
Zipping between giant icebergs by zodiac near Cape Adare

7. 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. It’s even gained the nickname of ‘The Last Ocean’.

Adelie penguins, Weddell seal, penguin, penguins, Weddell seal and adelie penguins, Cape Adare, Ross Sea, Antarctica, Antarctica Travel, Antarctica Travel Guide
Seals and Penguins, galore

Explore subantarctic New Zealand: Campbell Island

8. 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, of which no fishing will be allowed in 1.1 million square kilometers of the marine reserve. Read more on the agreement here.

leopard seal, Antarctica, Ross Sea
This Leopard Seal inched all the way across an ice flow in the middle of the Ross Sea to come over and peer straight down at us into our zodiac

9. See Science Live In Action

In the heart of McMurdo Sound sits McMurdo Station (US) and Scott Station (New Zealand). 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 peek into their super remote lives.

McMurdo Station, McMurdo Base, Ross Sea, Ross Island
Touring around McMurdo Station

See why you need to visit the Lemaire Channel over in the Antarctic Peninsula

10. The Southernmost Active Volcano On Earth

Antarctica is 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.

Mt. Erebus, Erebus, Antarctica, Ross Sea, McMurdo Sound, Emperor Penguins
Mt Erebus towering over Emperor Penguins out on the ice

Need Any More Inspiration To Visit The Ross Sea? 

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 Expeditions spectacular Ross Sea Crossing.

Check out the sailings they have coming up for next season, it’s never to early to start planning! Pick a copy of Bradt’s Antarctica to help in your trip planning too.

Have Any Questions About Visiting The Ross Sea?

Ask in the comments section, or click the links to other of my posts below.

Franklin Island, Franklin Island Antarctica, Adelie Penguin, Adelie penguin Franklin Island
Franklin Island

2 thoughts on “10 Reasons To Visit The Ross Sea”

  1. I am going to the Ross Sea in February from Dunedin what are the seas like and what seasickness treatment did you take?. I am expecting them to be very rough but how rough i dont know

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