Day 22 February 13th

Day 22

Tuesday, February 13th

Fish Islands, Prospect Point

This morning we did a zodiac cruise through the pack ice and icebergs on our way to the Minnows.  The Fish Islands are individual islands that are named after different fish species:  Flounder, Plaice, Trout, Salmon and the islets known as The Minnows!

We began our zodiac cruise south of these islands. Following the edge we headed north. We took our time and attempted to traverse the narrow passages between the icebergs, brash & forming sea ice. The sky was overcast, and at times a brisk wind carried snowflakes onto our faces.  At one point we were worried that we wouldn’t make it to see our 7th species of penguin, the Adelie!IMG_2239IMG_2240IMG_2245IMG_2251

At least we saw 2 Adelie penguins on an sea ice and a seal resting!

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Our first glimpse of the Adelie penguin.
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This pair was moving all around the ice!
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He just looked at us because we were disturbing his rest!

We saw some incredible looking icebergs.  You know how you see shapes in clouds, we were doing the same with the icebergs.  It was impressive the color and shape variances.  Some of the icebergs appeared to be illuminated and some are so blue.  They are spectacular!  IMG_2253IMG_2283IMG_2284IMG_2295IMG_2301IMG_2311

We finally made it and had a short time to observe the Adelie penguins at The Minnows, which are low-lying, rocky outcrops. They are occupied by Adélie penguins, with an estimated 1600 breeding pairs between 12 colonies. Blue-eyed shags also breed on the islands and a few were seen flying back to check on their chicks!

The Adelie penguins are the smallest of the Antarctic penguins.  They are about 2 feet tall and weigh 8-9 pounds!  If you’ve ever read the children’s book Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Captain Cook is an Adelie penguin.IMG_2334IMG_2321IMG_2315

It was very cold on the zodiac due to the wind and waves that got us very wet.  The temperature was about 37 degrees F.

After lunch we were going to try to kayak but it was canceled due to the windy conditions.  We went on zodiacs over to Prospect Point.

Prospect Point was our second continental landing.IMG_2347

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Here we saw the remains of a British Surveying and Geological Base J.  This base was occupied from 1957-1959.  There are remains of seals (they are mummified from many winters) that were used to feed the dogs.

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British Base J
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The remains of J.
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A few of the mummified seals.
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A close up of a seal.

There was a hike up the snow to a beautiful view of the area.IMG_2386IMG_2392IMG_2381IMG_2395IMG_2423

It was another day of adventure in Antarctica!

Day 21 February 12th

Day 21

Monday, February 12th

The Antarctic Circle, Fish Islands, Polar Plunge

We didn’t have any kayaking today because of the winds being too strong!  🙁

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Our kayaks stayed strapped on their shelves!

Around 9:30 AM we crossed the Antarctic Circle.  Champagne was served and a celebration was held on the aft deck!

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Always fun on deck!
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We were very excited to be this far south!

As we continued south toward our destination, the sea ice was packed too thickly for us to arrive at our stop at Detaille Island which is located just south of the Antarctic Circle, 66°52′S 66°47′W.   It was the home of Station W.  It is a well preserved abandoned British research station from the late 1950s.  Crystal Sound, 66º45.492’ S, was our farthest location after the crossing of the Antarctic Circle.  Since the winds were too strong for this landing, we were told we would be taking a short zodiac cruise instead and then heading back north!

In the meantime, Miko did a presentation on his experience at the Polish Antarctic Research Station.  He is one of our marine biologists.  It was fascinating what all he did while stationed there.

Later on Mike did a talk about how the different ice forms develop and other information about icebergs.

The winds were still too strong so we didn’t even get to do the zodiac cruise around Detaille Island!  Maybe we’ll see it on another Antarctic Adventure. (I don’t think that will happen, but never say never!)  The ship then started heading north toward the Fish Islands.  We were going to attempt to do a zodiac cruise after dinner but it was too foggy here and we really want to see an Adelie penguin colony!  We’re going to try tomorrow.  I hope the weather cooperates.  Since there wasn’t going to be a cruise at the Fish Islands either, we were going to do the Polar Plunge after dinner!

A few more pictures from the icebergs as we headed toward our anchor spot for the “plunge”!

Around 9:30 it was time for the Polar Plunge!  There were 38 passengers and 2 of the expedition team members did the plunge too!  We both took the plunge!  The water temperature was 28 degrees F!  It was cold!  We jumped in and right back out but we can say we survived it.

They put a towel around us when we boarded and handed us a shot of vodka which we didn’t even taste!  We went and took a warm shower, dressed quickly so we could see others jump from the upper decks!  What adventures will tomorrow bring for us?

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 20

Day 20

February 11th

Port Lockroy on Goudier Island,  and Jougla Point, Lemaire Channel

We anchored near Port Lockroy on Goudier Island and Jugla Point.  We dressed for our kayak excursion and went to the lounge to listen to the presentation by the representative of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.  She explained what they are and that she is one of 4 spending the summer on Port Lockroy.  As soon as she finished her talk, we headed to meet our kayak guides, Tara and Todd to go paddling!

We went kayaking all around Port Lockroy and Goudier Island. The winds were light and we only had a small wind chop.  From the kayaks we spotted gentoo penguins, Antarctic fur seal, snowy sheathbill, blue-eyed shag, south polar skua, brown skua, Weddell seal, and the Wilson’s storm petrel.  Goudier Island, also known as Port Lockroy, was the site for the original Base A.  It has been refurbished with a museum and gift shop.  We explored the geological features on the backside of Goudier Island.  We continued around the island and crossed over to Jougla Point where we observed some nesting shags and soon to be fledgling Gentoo penguins.

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Paddling at Port Lockroy.
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Port Lockroy is in the background.  It was the site of the original Base A.

P1010053 When we finished our paddling, we headed to shore to explore the museum and mail our postcards.

When we visited the museum at Port Lockroy it was very interesting.  The former base was renovated and opened as a monument and museum in 1996.  Below are some pictures from the museum.

It also has the Penguin Post Office that the summer team manages and hand stamps.  As far as we know it is the southernmost post office.

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This is where you mail your letters and postcards.

Port Lockroy museum and post office is operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.  There are 4 women that run the museum and post office during the summer season, from November to March.  They have no running water.  They get to take a shower when a ship makes an excursion to the island!  There is also no central heating, no phone signal, and no means of communication with the world other that VHF radio and satellite phones for emergencies.  And no darkness either, it is pretty much 24 hours a day of daylight.  You also don’t have electricity that comes from a power station and no flushing toilet, it is a camping type toilet.  They also have a gentoo colony that lives all around them so they need to clean the penguin poo off the pathways while following the strict Antarctic Treaty to ensure strict guidelines on the care of the environment are adhered to!

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It was slippery climbing these rocks up to the museum.
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We tried to keep our distance from the penguins but they would join us on the paths!
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Part of the colony that was off limits to us! Penguins only!
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The building behind the penguins, is the living quarters for the 4 women who ran the museum and post office.

 

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The remains of a ship.
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“Mom and Dad where are you?”
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“I’m too tired to worry about these visitors!
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Watching the people!
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Waddling around the island!

 After lunch we cruised through the Lemaire Channel.  The sun wasn’t shining but the views were stunning!  The Lemaire Channel is 7 miles long by 1 mile wide!

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Looking ahead at the channel, it doesn’t look like our ship will fit!
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This seal doesn’t care as he rests on some ice!

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 The ship dropped anchor at Pleneau Bay which is located at the southern end of the Lemaire Channel.  This area is filled with stunning icebergs.  These large icebergs get blown in here, they run aground and slowly break up.  The pictures below show just a few of the icebergs and the surrounding area!  We were awestruck by the beauty!  We had difficulty choosing just a “few” of the various icebergs and surroundings pictures that we took!IMG_2111IMG_2108IMG_2107

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Gentoo penguins swimming everywhere!
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Gentoo penguins!

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Just beautiful!

We spent our time at Pleneau Bay paddling through brash ice and being surrounded by swimming penguins that were feeding on krill.

We also saw a leopard seal resting on some ice.  We didn’t disturb him.

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The resting leopard seal.
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We loaded into our kayak from the zodiac!
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We’re all getting ready to head into the brash ice!
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Tara, one of our kayak guides, leading us into the ice!

 

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Our expedition leader, Ali, and our ship doctor, Christy, brought us Bailey’s and hot chocolate! Yummy!

At one point while we were all surrounded by the brash ice, Todd had us all put down our paddles and listen to the ice.  We heard “snap, crackle, and pop”!  It was quite a sensory overload!

While paddling in the bay, our point and shoot camera, came loose and fell into the water!  We were sad about its loss but it was an older camera and had served us well.  We also had downloaded everything on the card before going kayaking this afternoon.  Life is too short to worry about the small stuff!  Even though we lost the camera, this was one of our favorite paddles!  It started to snow as we were out there which just added to the magic of this surreal environment.  It was incredibly beautiful, peaceful, relaxing, and pristine environment.  We can’t think of enough adjectives to describe our surroundings!

Our dinner today was a BBQ on the aft deck.  It was snowing and the views were stunning!  IMG_7775A minke whale was playing around the ship and even breached! It was quite entertaining.

After dinner, Mike, our glaciologist, did a presentation about his time in Antarctica working at one of the Australian research stations.  We decided after his talk that spending a winter in Antarctica takes a special type of person!  We don’t qualify!

What an exhilarating today!  We slept very well.

 

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 19

Day 19

Saturday, February 10th

Paradise Harbour, Waterboat Point, Danco Island

This morning we were at Paradise Harbour to do an excursion at the Argentinian Base Brown.  We were bundled up and ready to board a zodiac when the expedition team decided the brash ice was too dense and the wind too strong to go ashore.  The wind wasn’t going to get any better any time soon.

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Argentina’s Base Brown
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You can see all the brash ice!
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Iceberg near the base.

Our ship then headed towards the Chilean Base Gonzalez Videla at Waterboat Point.  There were a lot of gentoo penguins all around as we did a ship cruise because of the weather.  Again, I want to stress these pictures are as we snapped them.  No editing or photoshop has been used!

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Chilean Gonzalez Videla Station
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Another view of the station and the gentoo penguins!
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There was a lot of gentoo penguins.
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Icebergs all around the base.
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Would you want to work here at this desolate location with amazing scenery?
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I wouldn’t mind visiting for a day!

Below are just a few of the fabulous views as we cruised to our next location!  Some humpback whales were escorting our ship! IMG_1836IMG_1839IMG_1847IMG_1850IMG_1852IMG_1866IMG_1860IMG_1882This afternoon we did anchor by Danco Island.  The zodiacs had to maneuver through a lot of brash ice and icebergs and the wind was really gusting!

It made for a very bumpy and wet ride!  On this island we saw many breeding gentoo penguins.  We watched many penguins nesting, molting, chicks fledgling , penguins going in and out of the water, and penguins waddling up and down their “penguin highway”!  It was incredible how high the penguins travel on this “highway”.

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The Gentoo penguin highway!
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Their colony is way up there!
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One penguin waddling up the highway!
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This is just partway up the mountain. Many more Gentoo penguins are even higher.
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“Feed me!”
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Thank you Mom or Dad!
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Chicks, Moms, and Dads
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“I’m going back to my colony!
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Heading into the water for a dip!
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Almost in the water.
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Coming out of the water.

 

 

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 18

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 18

Friday, February 9th

Whales, Portal Point, and Hydrurga Rocks

We were awakened by Ali, our expedition team leader, at 5:30 AM because we were surrounded by at least 25 humpback whales!  It was incredible!

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Every direction around our ship, we saw humpback whales!
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We could hear them because it was very quiet on the decks.
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Beautiful humpback whales.
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The whales are huge!
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One of the pods of whales that we observed.
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Humpback whales and this spectacular backdrop!
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They were feeding on krill.

 

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We saw many tales!

Watch these videos and have your volume on and you can hear the humpback whales!

The weather cooperated and we were able to kayak this morning around Portal Point which was our first Antarctic continental landing!

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A beautiful morning for kayaking!
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Gorgeous landscape!
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Todd, one of our kayak guides, is giving us information about this crabeater seal.
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A crabeater seal relaxing on the iceberg.
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We kayaked through the brash ice!

When we were finished kayaking this morning, we boarded a zodiac and walked around the continent of Antarctica.

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Our first continental landing on Antarctica.
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We saw our first Weddell seals.
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“I’m too tired to worry about you!”
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This beautiful lake on Antarctica.

The pictures below are unedited and no filters.  In fact, every picture in our blog have had no editing at all.  Antarctica’s landscape is just amazing!

After lunch we arrived at Hydrurga Rocks and we did a second kayak trip.  We paddled all around the rocks and we also got to zodiac to the rocks and explore the chinstrap penguins! Our underwater camera did a decent job giving you our view from the water.

The pictures below were taking when we were exploring on the rocks and watching the chinstrap penguin colony, shag colony, fur seals, and weddell seals!

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Shag Colony
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Chinstrap Colony
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Notice all the guano. And boy did it smell!

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Chinstrap chicks covered with a lot of guano.
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This chick almost has all of his adult feathers.

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Sleeping the day away!
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“Ready to strike up the band!”

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There is nothing like O-H-I-O with two other passengers from Ohio!img_2001.jpg

British beer tasting on the back deck!

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Fun for all!

Beautiful evening out on deck.  (It’s about 10:00 PM when we took these pictures.)