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"The first time I saw the White Continent,
I immediately understood that Antarctica was unique.
It was absolute purity. "

So far, I have participated in three Antarctic expeditions, two to the French base at Dumont d'Urville and one to the US station at McMurdo. "

But when in 2009 we got to McMurdo, it was not our final destination. I was working on the BBC's Frozen Planet series at the time and it was a Twin Otter that dropped the 5 members of our team on the ice floe in Cape Washington, 400 km north of McMurdo.

The plane trip is simply extraordinary, with the sea frozen under our feet and the Erebus volcano on the horizon.


It is a Twin Otter which deposited the 5 members of our team on the ice floe, in Cape Washington, 400 kms north of McMurdo.

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But before you get there, you have to take an ice survival course. We learn to live independently on the ice floe, which boils down to being able to sleep and cook.

One word sums it up perfectly. The survival !

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"The Summer Kitchen!"

“And you quickly realize that boiling water becomes a feat. The words "al dente", are not part of the local vocabulary, the pasta will always arrive in the form of a compact block ”


So we landed a few days later on the pack ice, not far from the emperor penguin colony, the second largest on the continent. Our camp consisted of a few tents including one for cooking and one reserved for cinema equipment and computers. The charm of this camp was the perpetual presence of 50 to 60 penguins who had temporarily taken up residence by our side. Curiosity !

The diving compressor, the centerpiece of our equipment, stayed out and never broke down.

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That year, the penguins didn't have to walk long to find the edge of the pack ice or holes in the ice. Maybe 4 to 5 kms at most. On our side we found a hole frequented enough to allow us to film.

Underwater, the spectacle is even more magical. All these penguins leaving traces of bubbles behind them reveal a unique portrait of the underwater world.

Then they disappear into the deep blue of the ocean, only to reappear a few minutes later. They easily reach depths of 100 meters or more to find krill. I then lie down on the ice, and wait for their return to the surface. The first reappears in the rays of light.

But the magic happens at night. Tucked in my sleeping bag, my right ear hears the chants of the emperors, just outside my tent, probably less than a yard away, while my left ear hears the vocalizations of the Weddell seals through the pillow, a few hundred meters below me.


Weddell seal

"That's all the charm of Antarctica!" "

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