Once hunted to the point of extinction, seals are now a signature of any trip to Antarctica. Six species live south of the Antarctic Convergence. Crabeater, Leopard, Ross and Weddell seals are all considered true Antarctic species, while fur seals, and the big daddy of the beach, the elephant seal, venture south but prefer the northerly sub-Antarctic islands. Seals return to land to breed, often on shelf and pack ice or on coastal shores. South Georgia, for example, is a great place for seal-spotters, with millions of fur seals – in fact, virtually the entire population of the species – converging here to breed. Elsewhere, look out for camouflaged seals lying among the ashen-grey, volcanic beaches of the South Shetlands, sunbathing on ice floes, and popping up for breathe and rest in the cracks and blowholes of Antarctica’s frozen seas.

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