Sunday, 30 January 2011
Friday, 28 January 2011
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
The first landing spot which the Expedition Leader chose for us today was Cuverville Island. It houses an enormous colony of gentoo penguins. We saw that a large proportion of the chicks have been born far too late in the season to have a chance of survival. This, we learnt, is partly due to global warming and the resulting greater quantities of snow which fall during the winters nowadays. Consequently the nesting sites for the penguins are snowfree too late in the season for the penguins to be able to complete their breeding cycle in time: a rather sad reminder of the careless use man makes of the whole planet. Apart from the penguins there was a lot of whale bone on shore which captivated our interest; and a fierce looking leopard seal was patrolling the shoreline. It kept sticking its head out of the water and sizing us up as if it wanted to decide who us might be the tastiest morsel for it. These seals are actually quite capable of making a human their victim so care had to be taken as we were leaving and boarding the boats.
And what a landing it was! The scenery was beautiful, the weather sunny, and the sea calm enough for us to go out. We saw a rather large rookery of Chinstrap penguins, and we met all kinds of seals on the beach. The fur seals were a boisterous lot. Weddell seals and crabeater seals had a quiet snooze on the island as well. A leopard seal was sighted in the water. The Expedition Team tell us that is is unusual to see so many defferent kinds so close together. By the end of the day it was a wonderful experience again. We have now seen real Antarctic conditions and had a very memorable landing in the end. All's well that ends well.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
In the afternoon we came ever closer to Snow Hill Island and the tension on board rose. Would we able to make it through the ice close enough to shore to reach the landing site there? The captain admirably steered the ship safely through the ice and we made landfall. Snow Hill was home to the Swedish expedition in 1901 - 1904. The old hut is still there and gave us an unforgettable impression of the lives of the early explorers. The guest book in the hut informed us that we had been the first visitors for more than one year. That really goes to show how isolated we are in this part of the world!