Monday, 4 January 2010

Whaler's Bay, Baily Head and Yankee Harbour

The day started early with a landing at the volcanic Island of Deception. The ship entered the caldera through Neptune’s Bellows and anchored in Whaler’s Bay. While some people explored the old whaling station, three groups hiked the one and a half miles to Baily Head where we observed the very large rookery of chinstrap penguins. Many of the penguins sat on eggs or took care of their chicks. The noise of the chinstraps was a cacophony of sound. Many people also commented on the unique odor that wafted into our nostrils. Skuas flew overhead searching for loose or unattended eggs to devour. The view from the heights of the island was spectacular, looking down on Whaler’s Bay as well as the narrow entrance of Neptune’s Window.

The beautiful weather was a feather in our cap as well. In the afternoon, we landed at Yankee Harbor, so named after the many American sealers who used the natural harbor as an anchorage in the 1820’s. Lots of brash ice filled the bay making tricky navigation for the polar cirkle boats as they bumped and ground their way to shore. Here we saw gentoo penguins with tiny newly hatched chicks. Snorting elephant seals and one Weddell seal occupied the end of the spit of land. Leopard seals patrolled the shoreline in search of unwary penguins. A cold wind blew off the nearby glacier and we were glad to finally return to the warm, snug ship and the Chilean buffet that awaited us. The day ended with a glowing orange sunset as we headed toward the Drake Passage.