Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The unforgettable Deception

Deception Island is a ring-shaped island laying nearly 10 miles south of Livingston Island, in the South Shetland Islands. It has a central landlocked harbor, a drowned breached crater called Port Foster. This is one of the safest natural harbors in the world. To attain this safe shelter, ships have to navigate through a narrow entrance known as the Neptune Bellows. 

This beautiful and sunny morning the keen hikers onboard started an early hike to Baily Head, a rocky headland exposed to the Bransfield Strait out on the south east coast of Deception Island that is home to some 100’000 Chinstrap Penguin breeding pairs. The rest of us stayed at Whalers Bay and visited the ruins of the Norwegian Whaling Company Hector, which operated from 1912 to 1931 and worked chiefly in the waters of the South Shetland Islands. After the whaling station was abandoned due to a fall in the whale oil price, the British established the Base B from 1943 to 1944 as part of the Tabarin operation. This was later transformed into a scientific facility of the British Antarctic Survey, but it had to be evacuated after a mud slide following a volcanic eruption in 1969 which severely damaged the buildings.
The bravest of us even had a little Antarctic swim!! Due to the volcanic activity, water is less cold here than anywhere else in Antarctica, making this the perfect place to achieve this challenge.

After lunch we arrived at the Argentinian Station Primero de Mayo, which was the starting point to our afternoon hike, this time to another Chinstrap Colony on the northern shore of Deception Island, facing the Antarctic Peninsula. This second hike was less strenuous than the first one but still had some steep slopes. The reward was fabulous: great panoramas, the sighting of the first icebergs, and a splendid view of the Penguin Colony. 

We are now heading south. We wish to see many more icebergs and to have good weather!