Sunday, 12 February 2012

Port Lockroy and Jougla Point

Whale bones at Jougla Point
photo copywright Lisa Anderson
We anchored at 0830, the sky was 100% overcast and gusty winds were blowing from Wiencke Island and Goudier Island toward the Fram. Our first landing was at Jougla Point on Wiencke Island, here the Expedition Staff had set out trails that enabled us to visit the Gentoo penguin colony. Skua’s were aggressively working to single out penguin chicks for their next meal. Blue-eyed shags and snowy sheath-bills were also sighted. The scattered whale bones on Jougla Point document that this area was used by whalers. Some of the whale bones have been “re-assembled” to look like a complete whale skeleton, but our guides informed us that the skeleton was assembled using bones from several different species of whales. A short ride in our polarCirkel boats took us to Port Lockroy on the very small Goudier Island.

Port Lockroy
photo copyright Lisa Anderson
Port Lockroy was discovered and named in 1904 by Jean Baptiste Charcot during the first French Antarctic expedition. Though the name is French the present human occupants are British. Bransfield House is the main building and it is currently maintained by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). Originally the building was Base “A” of the British World War II “Operation Tabarin” to observe wartime enemy activities around the Peninsula. After the war the base was used as a scientific station by the British Antarctic Survey. In 1962 the base was closed, but in 1995 it was designated an Antarctic Historic Site and Monument. This designation initiated a restoration project in 1996 to preserve the building and its contents as closely as possible to their 1962 condition. Since 2006 the UKAHT has maintained the base and operated the post office, museum and gift shop. The UKAHT is a non-profit organization and the proceeds from the items sold at the gift shop are used by the UKAHT to preserve and restore historic Antarctic buildings. We did our part to help this good cause as we purchased clothing plus many maps and books at the gift shop.
Relic sledges at Port Lockroy
photo copyright Lisa Anderson

Our afternoon transit of Neumeyer Channel to Wilhelmina Bay was overcast with some fog and precipitation that ranged from snow to sleet to rain, with occasional clear parches. Once in Wilhelmina Bay the visibility improved and the bay lived up to its reputation as an excellent whale watching area. As Fram motored along at reduced speed we sighted several humpback and minke whales.

As we continued northward, the day closed in the Panorama Lounge with a lot of laughs as our ever versatile crew entertained us with songs, dances and skits.
Evening at Port Lockroy
photo copyright Lisa Anderson