Tuesday 17 January 2012

In the Drake and at Half Moon Island

The morning saw us still in the Drake, but it has calmed down considerably and we experienced a very smooth Drake Passage with a low but long wave swell. The sun was shining the whole day and there were only a few clouds. The temperature of the sea water has dropped to 3 – 4 ° C. We passed the Antarctic Convergence in the early morning. This convergence separates the cool Antarctic waters from the warmer waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. This line is also an important ecological boundary. To the North we have the sub-Antarctic regime and to the south we see Antarctic wildlife. So also the bird species following our ship changed. We could observe only some few albatrosses and close to the South Shetland Islands they disappeared. Instead we had more Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmars and swarms of Cape Petrels were dancing in the air around the Fram.
At 13.00 we saw the first Iceberg and soon after we sighted land, the South Shetland Islands. At 15.45 some Whales passed by and at 16.00 finally we arrived at our first landing site in the Antarctic: Half Moon Island.
Our friends the noisy chinstrap penguins were still there, busy as always coming from and going to the sea. Also three Weddell Seals were hauling out at the beach.
At the end of our visit around 20.00 some more clouds came up, hiding a part of the sun and produced dramatic scenery in the sky to say good bye to us. During Dinner we heaved anchor and sailed towards our next destination Cuverville Island.