Early this morning around breakfast we cruised through the Lemaire Channel between Booth Island and the mainland of west Antarctica. It was spectacular as usual and, remarkable for this time of year, contained no icebergs of bergy-bits. Some pancake ice was forming after a cold night.
Once through the Lemaire we made our way into the Penola Strait to our first landing of the day at Petermann Island. This point of our trip is notable because it is the farthest south we go- a little more than 65° south.
The swell was too much to land at our normal site so we decided to use Port Circumcision, which was calm. The small inlet was discovered on Jan. 1, 1909 by the French Antarctic Expedition under Charcot, who named it for the holy day on which it was first sighted. The cove served as a base for the ship Pourquoi-Pas? during the 1909 winter season.
At Petermann, we were able to observe breeding Gentoo and Adélie Penguins, and Blue-eyed Shags, in one sub-colony, all mixed together. Others hiked across the island for a view of iceberg ally, although this year we saw only one of a decent size, and it was in the process of turning over. We noticed a reduction in the number of Adélie Penguins compared to visits in previous years, with them seemingly being replaced by Gentoos.
After returning to the ship we sailed to Port Lockroy for our afternoon landing, via the beautiful Neumayer Channel. Port Lockroy is on Goudier Island and is home to the British Antarctic Heritage Trust's "Base A". Within the base there is a fascinating museum, gift shop and British Post Office. Outside we were treated to more Gentoo Penguins and the antics of several pairs of Snowy Sheatbills. The Union Jack flew proudly above breeding Gentoos with Wiencke Island as a backdrop.
In the evening we had a lot of fun at our Fram Auction and Cruise Show. Several very desirable items were on offer at the auction with the proceeds going to several non-profit organisations dealing with heritage and nature conservation in Antarctica. After the auction, which raised over $2600 US, the crew put on a fantastic and colourful show of singing and dancing and other arts in our Cruise Show. It was a great way to round out our last day in Antarctica.
We now strike east and north for the Drake Passage and eventually Ushuaia. We wish for calm seas and fair winds. Whether we get our wish is up to Nature, and as we have no hand in it, we can relax and enjoy the ride. Miguelito, the pooparazzi photo is dedicated to you!
Temperature range for the day: -2°C to 3°C.