I've just gotten back from visiting my friend Marty who told me about his recent vacation to Antarctica. He described stopping in a small settlement in the Andes before crossing the Drake Sea--there were six foot waves that rocked the ship he was on in every direction and then totally, eerily calm water. The landscape he saw on the Antarctic peninsula more closely resembled the Himalayas than he'd expected, mountains with ice hanging off. There were thousands of penguins unused to humans, some of whom would walk up and peck his shoes.
There was one place that had buildings, the only place he said he found spooky, an almost abandoned British base that reminded him of the structures in John Carpenter's The Thing. He met a fascinating old British man who told him about dogs in Antarctica--the imported sled dogs who used to be the primary means of travel on the continent. At some point it was decided that dogs shouldn't be kept in Antarctica, so the man Marty met had taken most of the dogs and shot them in their heads. "It sounds very harsh," Marty said to me, "But when you're there, it sounds very natural--of course you kill the dogs, anyone would!" These dogs would live most of their lives roaming outdoors and feeding off the seal meat humans would bring them at intervals. Those few dogs who were transported out of Antarctica failed to breed and most died within a few years of leaving Antarctica.
Marty told me he thought the leopard seals he saw were among the creepiest creatures he ever saw--he found their long, reptilian faces off-putting. As he was leaving Antarctica, he saw a school of penguins, arcing out of the water, somewhat like dolphins, and then suddenly a leopard seal intercepted one, vigorously shaking it from side to side as blood sprayed up into the air, "like a [George] Romero movie." The seal shook it so hard and so quickly that the penguin was turned completely inside out.
I went to YouTube hoping someone had video of something like this, but most of the videos seem to be very penguin-centric--I guess to cash in on penguins being recently in vogue. I was amazed at how obnoxious National Geographic's (or "NatGeo") videos are--filled with hyperactive editing and random bits of sped up footage. The BBC clips are a lot better, actually being in widescreen and lacking the busy quality of the NatGeo shit. But my favourite video actually contained little more than stills;
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Remember, new Venia's Travels to-day.