I’m sitting here looking at Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide. I’ve never been to the Antarctic so I can’t tell you what I think of this book from the pragmatic angle of how well it works as a guide, but I can tell you that I’ve learned a number of things just looking at the book. For one thing, I had no idea that almost all tourist visits to Antarctica go to the same general area of the continent. I guess that makes sense given the geography of the region, but it had not occurred to me before.
I’ve guided a number of tours in Africa and some of my clients were very serious world travelers; More than once, I’ve had people who were just at one pole and were fitting in an Africa trip before their trip to the next pole. My sister and her husband, who have become very serious travelers over the last decade or so, have been there recently, and my BFF Laurie lived there for a year a little while back. She gave me some interesting items including a stack of Science Digest magazines that she found in the defunct research station under the South Pole. How cool is that? I figure I’ll get down there when some tourist company invites me as part of the entertainment.
And if I do go, I’ll probably carry the Antarctic Visitor’s Guide with me. As a wildlife guide, it covers a diversity of animals, mostly birds, but also sea mammals and even some plants. The book is heavy on advice for how to see and appreciate the wildlife. It occurs to me that it is probably not difficult to identify most birds and sea mammals in the Antarctic because there is relatively low diversity and high disparity (not too many species, and they are very different looking) and this is reflected in the fact that this book is heavy on information compared to field marks and lengthy discussion son how to tell one warbler apart from another when you hardly saw the thing in the first place.
(Oh, no warblers in Antarctica, by the way.)
If you are reading this blog post, you are probably looking for a book on Antarctic wildlife. And if that’s true, you are probably going to Antarctica. Enjoy your trip!