From the wild horses on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and the always exciting penguins and polar bears of Antarctica and the Arctic to an incredible story of wildlife resilience in Fort Myers following a destructive hurricane, there are a variety of wildlife stories to tell from different corners of the world.
Aurora Expeditions – Antarctica & the Arctic
With its cold climate and harsh conditions, Antarctica and the Arctic have given rise to some fascinating and awe-inspiring wildlife. As an explorer with one of Aurora Expeditions‘ voyages, travelers will get the chance to view animals in these remote regions up close and personal, whether it’s from the main ship’s floor to ceiling windows and hydraulic viewing platforms or via Zodiac cruise. In Antarctica, travelers will get to be in close proximity to penguins while they carry on with their busy schedule, watch as seals glide through the water and witness many species of birds like the Wandering albatross and the Antarctic Tern in full flight. Perhaps the most exciting Antarctic wild animal sighting is the area’s mighty and magnificent whales. Likely the biggest whale travelers will see is the Humpback whale, which usually grows up to 50 feet long making their tail slapping all the more exciting. In the Arctic, travelers will see everything from musk oxen and Arctic fox to walrus’ and reindeer. It’s not a trip to the Arctic without keeping an eye out for the famed polar bear, known as the largest land carnivore in the world and the largest in the bear family.
North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is ripe with wildlife – both on land and under the sea. The Crystal Coast also happens to have the perfect conditions for scuba diving. Known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” the destination features 100+ feet of visibility, over 2,000 underwater wrecks, and lavish marine life thanks to regulated fishing and local preservation efforts. Travelers can explore reefs and swim with sharks in waters as warm as the Caribbean. For those looking to stay on terra firma, take the ferry to the Shackleford Banks where travelers will find the island’s famed wild horses that are descended from the ancestors who survived several Spanish shipwrecks off the coast in the 1500s. Adventurous travelers can also horseback ride (on tamed horses!) through the destination’s marshes, beaches and the Croatan National Forest. Travelers will also enjoy hiking through the marshes searching for bird’s nests and listening to the calming calls of a variety of species and walks along the destination’s 85-miles of beaches hunting for turtle nests.
Wildlife in Fort Myers’ islands, beaches and neighborhoods includes some of the most unique creatures on the planet. From the once-critically endangered manatee to alligators and birds, travelers will come across a variety of different animals that they’ll be mesmerized by. Especially following the impact of Hurricane Ian back in September 2022, the destination has seen an incredible amount of wildlife resilience, with animals such as bobcats, raccoons, coyotes, white pelicans and more returning to their home. Over 60 percent of Sanibel Island is reserved for wildlife, and with 25 miles of bike trails families can trek through nature at J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, one of the area’s 47 nature preserves. After the hurricane, the refuge was so excited to find an astounding eight new eagle nests built and found hope with the return of gopher tortoises, which was the biggest symbol of resilience in the destination as these creatures are known as “nature’s landlord” because they create homes for other animals. The Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs is also home to a diverse family of rescued, rehabilitated and non-releasable animals, including alligators, turtles, flamingos and more. Across the destination, visitors can experience wildlife in a non-captive environment including manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, and birds along nature walks, like the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve coastal cruises, and kayak trails. National Wildlife Day in Fort Myers is not only a haven for animal lovers but provides an educational experience to learn about the importance of preserving these precious habitats.