Exploring Antarctica, Or Being in Seal Porn at the World's Bottom | Outtraveler
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Exploring Antarctica, Or Being in Seal Porn at the World's Bottom

Exploring Antarctica, Or Being in Seal Porn at the World's Bottom

The King Penguins were totally into it…

“Uncle! Uncle!” I cried. I was held to the ground; face down, ass up as usual. But this time the safety word wasn’t working. A gigantic Weaner had flopped on to my arm and pinned me. I squirmed, but it was no use, I was stuck.

“Oh you are just disgusting,” said my Mother condescendingly. The penguins looked up at her, annoyed for disrupting the show. “Look at you, all covered in goo!” I blushed, this was not a position I ever wanted my Mom to catch me in.

“Blech!” she said, walking off down the icy beach, leaving me trapped with this hairy, smelly thing. I lay there motionless with my face in the sand. The penguins stared like this was some kind of porno.

“What are you looking at?” I yelled.

“Juvenile elephant seals are referred to as ‘Weaners,’ because they’ve just been weaned by their mothers,” a South African expedition leader tells me. “So they are very affectionate, and they often just fall asleep on you.”

That’s great information, I thought, but it doesn’t exactly help me does it. WHAM! Another Weaner flopped on to my back, pinning the rest of my body. I always wanted to be popular, but this was ridiculous. “Um… I’m kind of getting ganged here!” I wailed. The penguins got really excited. I continued to lay there, pondering my exit strategy and wondering why I came to Antarctica in the first place.

“ANTARCTICA?!” Back in L.A. all my gay friends clutched their pearls. “Why on Earth would you want to go to Antarctica?!” (And one was like “Ooooh, are you going to see Polar Bears? And Santa?” I was like, “No sweetie, they’re in the North Pole… North.”) I don’t know what it is about me, but I just was never built for a “traditional vacation.” Don’t get me wrong, I love beaches and nice hotels and relaxing, but I find myself really turned on by the harder stuff. More importantly, travel has always been a lifestyle choice rather than something I only do two weeks a year. And ever since I was in college, I had this incredibly ambitious goal of reaching all seven continents before the age of 30. I was never sure how I was going to achieve this, but it had always been a dream of mine… until I had to earn a living.

I was headed to work one Los Angeles morning, trapped on the 10 freeway toward Santa Monica. It was a giant parking lot and everything was gridlocked. I remember staring ahead thinking, “Is this how my life is supposed to be?” Naturally that’s when the phone rang. It was my mother, also my rival travel junky, who often gets competitive. “I’m going to Antarctica!” She shrilled. “You jealous? You jealous?!” I was, in fact, pissed. She was going to beat me at reaching all seven continents.

“Aww man!” I whined like a six-year-old. “I am jealous. I want to go to Antarctica, too!” There was a long pause. “Oh,” she said “Well…you want to come with me?” I looked out at the traffic.

“Lemme think about that for a second…”

Cut to two months later; I had quit my job and was sailing out of Ushuaia, Argentina, with two Russian Ice Breakers and a submarine in my wake. We were headed on a month long voyage touring The Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic peninsula. A trip that Zegrahm Expeditions, would call “Expedition Travel.”

“It’s rugged adventure travel aimed at people who want more than just a cruise,” a field director tells me. Zegrahm keeps the expeditions small, aiming its packages at the “inquisitive travelers,” who look for “intriguing destinations, insightful observations and adventurous interactions.”

That would be me. I mean, I would definitely call the elephant seals piling on top of me an adventurous interaction to say the least.

“GOOD MORNING! WE GOT SOUTHERN ORCAS PORT SIDE!” Blasted over the loud speaker. My mom and I shot out of bed, and pulled on our arctic gear. It was 4 a.m., and this was typical. Austral summers below 60 degrees latitude are similar to Nordic ones in that the sun is up at this hour. “WANDERING ALBATROS STARBORD!” “WHO WANTS TO SEE THE LARGEST COLONY OF KING PENGUINS IN THE WORLD?!” There is very little R&R in adventure travel, let alone good old-fashioned sleep. Luckily, we were so jazzed at the experience of it all we didn’t even realize we were tired. During the days at sea, classes were held with some of the world’s top experts, scientists, and historians lecturing on the places you go and the things you see. Only a few days into the trip my brain was full and, more importantly, so was my journal. I had taken so many notes I ran out of paper.

So you’d think I would have had the smarts to dislodge myself from all those Weaners.

“Just enjoy it,” said Melinda, a former ballet dancer from Denver, and fellow traveler. I looked over and she had just as many seal pups on top of her, and she was giggling away.

“How many other people in the world get to do this?” She was right. With that I turned to the Weaner on my arm. It opened its big eyes and looked back at me. I smiled, communing with this rare creature… and that’s when it sneezed in my face. The King Penguins were totally into it.

 

Click through for more pictures and stay tuned for more on Antartica, including abandoned whaling stations, sliding down glaciers, finding gay erotica, and lots and lots of penguins.

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