Midnight sun through mist, Ross Sea, Antarctica

The seldom-visited Ross Sea region south of New Zealand is a place of great contrasts, from bitter, sunless winters when most of the sea surface is frozen through to the 24-hour daylight of high summer; from eerie calm through to wild southern storms when horrendous polar winds whip the near-freezing sea into a frenzy. There are countless tales of tragedies and near-tragedies at sea here at the hands of the elements, and equally there are many accounts of the raw beauty of this region from those who have been fortunately enough to experience it directly.

In January 2001 I traversed the Ross Sea aboard the polar vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, en route to the Antarctic mainland further south. One night in particular here was especially calm, and, while others on board slept through the ‘night’ I stayed out on deck to watch the midnight sun shining softly through a light mist over the sea. The interplay of the low sunlight and the oily-calm sea created a scene of serenity which I found irresistible, despite my own desperate need for sleep. After watching icebergs glide by in silence for well over an hour, I got my camera out and took this photograph before I finally, reluctantly, crawled off to bed.

Midnight sun through mist, Ross Sea

Megaherbs, Campbell Island

Iceberg at 3 a.m., Ross Sea

King penguins courting, Macquarie Island

Adélie penguins, Cape Hallett

Adélie penguins, Inexpressible Island

Stratus clouds over pack ice, Ross Sea

Pack ice, Ross Sea