Friday, 16 December 2011

Summer snow

Well, I guess the official first day of summer here in Antarctica is 21 December, but we are close enough to this date to call it summer. And today we had snow from morning till noon! As the Antarctic Peninsula warms up so the air can contain more moisture, and thus is snows and rains more than it used to. Snow is summer is not so unusual in Antarctica but vertically falling snow, as we has today, is. Usually it blows sideways, as close to horizontal as does not matter! So, as you can guess, winds were almost non-existent during our landing.

After breakfast we prepared for our first landing of the day at an Argentinean station called Almirante Brown. By stepping on the rocks at the landing site we officially touched down on continental Antarctica. After getting over the excitement of the continental landing, some of us enjoyed watching the resident Gentoo Penguins go about their daily business in the snow. They are sitting on eggs right now. Others climbed the steep, snow-covered hill behind the station and had a marvelous time sliding back down. Today we broke the record and Philip, one of our South African passengers, went up and down 9 times!

 The snow fell unabated through lunch, then eased off for our second landing at Cuverville Island, the largest Gentoo Penguin colony in Antarctica. But this is not the only accolade we can bestow upon this place. It is situated in one of the most beautiful places in the world, with the towering, ice-covered peaks of RongĂ© Island on one side and the Antarctic continent on the other. And in the sea around the island was today one of the best and diverse collections of small and medium-sized icebergs ever to have existed- your faithful blogger is sure of that! Some of us even had the opportunity to climb amongst the bergy-bits. We had time to get to know the Cuvercille Gentoos today, and witnessed several skuas attempting to steal a penguin egg for dinner (if you are on the side of the penguin here, remember that skuas have to eat too).

Tomorrow is our last day of landings in Antarctica and I am sure we will make the best of it!