The challenging rescue operation launched after a Russian ship became trapped in Antarctic pack ice last month shows the inherent risks facing the frozen continent's burgeoning tourist industry, experts say.
Antarctica represents one of the last frontiers for adventurous travellers, an icy wonderland of glaciers, emperor penguins and seemingly endless white expanses.
But, as those aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy found out, blizzards, icebergs and treacherous seas are also a fact of life at one of the most remote locations on Earth, where help is often thousands of kilometres (miles) away.
"It does indeed serve as a reminder that it's an extreme environment that we're dealing with, whether it's scientific expeditions going down there or tourism cruises," Daniela Liggett, a specialist in Antarctic tourism regulation at New Zealand's Canterbury University, told AFP.
Tourist numbers in Antarctica have grown from less than 5,000 in 1990 to about 35,000 a year, according to industry figures. Most travel by sea, some paying in excess of $20,000 for a luxury cabin in the peak period from November to March.