Since working from home, nights in and exploring what’s on our doorstep became the new normal, some of us, now more than ever, are feeling the draw of destinations that are still out of reach.
For many of my fellow Antarctic Ambassadors, that draw will be to ice-capped mountains, vast white landscapes, the whip of snow on the wind and an endless array of wildlife waddling or basking on shorelines, gliding across the skies and breaching from beneath the waves.
Lucky for us, being at home more doesn’t mean we have to forget the places we love, everywhere we look there’s inspiration to be found online and there’s nowhere better to start than Instagram. So, to help quench your polar thirst, we’ve put together our Top 10 Polar Insta accounts (we assume you’re already following @antarctic_ambassadors !!!) Maybe they’ll inspire you to learn more about Antarctic wildlife, ignite a passion for landscape photography or simply give you a hearty dose of the feel-goods.
For Penguins (and more!) | @captainmaji
We absolutely love the array of penguin and landscape photography that traveller Maji Bransfield brings to her Insta grid. Filled with extraordinary imagery of penguins from Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, you can really see what makes each species unique; from the chinstrap chick’s fluffy down coat, to the macaroni penguin’s striking red eyes, and everything in between – @captainmaji’s account really brings you up close and personal (within visitor guidelines, of course) with Antarctica’s penguins. It seems we’re not the only ones to think her account is pretty inspirational, her other 76,000 plus followers clearly agree!
For Polar Landscapes & Wildlife | @berg.at.sea
Swedish marine biologist, expedition leader and photographer Martin Berg’s Instagram account is an absolute go-to for overcoming those rainy-day blues. Capturing the magic of wildlife from both poles, the array of birdlife, cetaceans and mammals on his Insta account inspires the inner naturalist in us each time we visit. From the polar bears of Svalbard to the Emperor penguin chicks of South Georgia, and some beautiful landscape captures in between, we can’t wait to see what he brings back from his next expedition.
For Antarctic News & Science | @theantarcticreport
‘Dedicated to all things on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean’, The Antarctic Report is a top choice for news about the white desert. Covering science, tourism, operations and the continent’s unique political status, this New Zealand-based account will keep you up to speed on the latest research, environmental updates and on-the-ground operations all season long. Not only that, but its wide array of content means that The Antarctic Report’s Insta game is on point. By combining latest news with stunning landscape photography and detailed information of where and when each image was taken, there’s an abundance of knowledge to gain from following this account.
For Women Power! | @polarwomen
With the aim of bringing together women in the polar science community and to inspire others to join the ranks, Women in Polar Science is an account with a mission. Their Insta is a testament to all of the talented and hard-working women in polar research and leadership and highlights their many skills and projects. Exploring this account not only provides an insight into this thriving community, but plenty of exciting online polar events too, from funding opportunities, to expedition webinars and symposium’s celebrating women in Antarctica, there is no shortage of inspiration on this powerful account.
For Obvious Reasons | @iaato_org
I mean, we’re not going to compile a list of must-follow Antarctic Instagram accounts without including our own, right? IAATO is a non-profit member organisation dedicated to advocating and promoting the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. If you’re hoping to travel to the white continent one day, this feed is the place to learn how to do so responsibly. If like us, you feel we all have a part to play in protecting this incredible place, you can find out exactly what our members do to achieve that. Using stunning images, taken by previous visitors, scientists and polar field guides, IAATO shares the myriad guidelines its members follow, as well as surprising facts about the region and the efforts that go in to traveling their safely and with environmental responsibility (pic by @onlyonewild)
For Conservation | @antarcticsouthernocean
Working to establish the world’s largest network of Marine Protected Areas around Antarctica, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition’s Instagram account is a reflection of its mission; to protect the Antarctic and Southern Ocean’s unique and vulnerable ecosystems. Filled with stunning landscape and wildlife photography interspersed with fact-filled infographics, and one of our absolute favorite series’ #40AntarcticSpecies, it’s easy to spend hours on this grid discovering more about Antarctica, it’s extraordinary wildlife and why this special continent is in need of our protection.
For History | @antarcticheritage
The Instagram account for the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust is everything an Antarctic history buff would hope it would be. Showcasing famous historical figures from Antarctic history, the locations and artefacts used by bygone scientists and explorers maintained by Antarctic Heritage in Antarctica, and inspirational stories from today’s expeditions, this grid is as inspirational as it is full to the brim of historical information about the white continent. We think it’s an especially good follow for young people wanting to learn more about the extraordinary history of Antarctica.
For the Awe-Factor | @simplyantarctica
‘American-Minnesotan-Korean-Norwegian-Swedish-Kiwi’ Keri Nelson has been working in Antarctica since 2007 and you can see from her grid, she is completely in love with this wild continent. Posting images of her favourite places in Antarctica, this awe-inspiring account is packed-full of photography showcasing Antarctica’s beauty and wildlife. Logging on for a Sunday afternoon scroll of Keri’s account never fails to remind us of why Antarctica inspires so many to not only work there, but to educate and engage others to protect this natural wonder.
For a Behind the Scenes View | @icy_pete
Showcasing a ground level view of life in Antarctica only usually seen by the few scientists who work there, we can see why Dr Peter Neff AKA “Icy Pete”, has nearly 16,000 Follows on his Insta account. The climatologist’s Insta gives a behind-the-scenes tour of ice-core drilling by McMurdo Station scientists and the highs and lows of living South of 60. We particularly love Pete’s light-hearted insights as to how these enviable scientists get their kicks in freezing temperatures, like the traditional ‘beach party’ thrown in some ice-core camps when they drill to sea-level and below…We think that’s definitely worth a follow!
For the Laughs (and movie nostalgia) | @blockbusterantarctica
If you’ve ever wondered what scientists living and working in Antarctica for months on end do to pass the time, this just-for-fun account provides a peek behind the scenes… of sorts. @blockbusterantarctica chronicles the many VHS tapes (remember those?) found at McMurdo Station on the Antarctic continent and goes some way to explaining what polar scientists really do with their time off South of 60. We hope E.T., Big, Harry and the Henderson’s, and Crocodile Dundee are keeping the McMurdo team occupied during their long polar stints…not sure The Thing is the best recommendation as you’re awaiting that flight home though!
Are there any we’ve missed? Join the conversation on Instagram and let us know!
About the Author | Vicky Dowdeswell, Antarctic Ambassador
Vicky Dowdeswell is a polar enthusiast and IAATO Secretariat alumni.
You might say Antarctica is in her blood, as both of Vicky’s parents are glaciologists spending many hours south of 60, contributing to glacier geophysics’ and making polar science and history accessible through the books they have written.
Growing up in a family of glaciologists and polar scientists, learning about the climate, environment, history and wildlife of the polar regions was a part of day-to-day life.
As soon as she could, Vicky entered the polar community for herself, first joining the marketing department of a responsible polar expedition company as well as supporting the Weddell Sea Expedition by sharing its story. During this time she had the privilege of seeing the wonders of the Antarctica firsthand, and it solidified in her everything her parents had shared about the polar regions; the need to learn from and preserve them.