Summering in Antarctica with Professor Emerita Kathleen Davis

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Kathleen (Kathy) Davis began her efforts in earnest to visit every continent in 1997 with a trip to Australia and New Zealand. At that time, she was still working at UT as a professor of counselling psychology, a role from which she retired in 2005. A trip to Antarctica last year marked off the seventh and final continent on her list.

“My friend and I spent 18 days in total traveling, taking a day and a half from our last port to reach Antarctica,” said Davis. “There are only two to three months of the year ships can make this trip, during the Antarctic summer, but we still saw plenty of ice.”

The approximately 100 passengers split into groups and went on land expeditions a couple of times a day as their ship visited several Antarctic islands and the northern portion of the continent.

“Expert guides would mark out paths for us to follow in the snow and ice, which was mainly to ensure we didn’t disturb the penguin habitats,” said Davis. “One lady dropped her hat, and a penguin snatched it before she had a chance to pick it up. She couldn’t chase after it—that’s how strict the rules were for staying on path.”

Gentoo penguins in Antarctica

The tour company provided them with thick boots and coats and even had passengers sanitize their shoes before and after venturing on land to protect the environment. Several penguin species call Antarctica and nearby islands home, but Davis saw mostly gentoo and chinstrap penguins in the areas her group visited.

They also saw whales and seals and an extraordinary display of stars, being away from human light pollution. There were opportunities to kayak, eat al fresco on the ship, and explore some of the icebergs.