Wednesday 16 January 2013

Cuverville Island and Almirante Brown

We began landing operations at Cuverville Island at 9:00. It was a very short ride in the Polar Cirkle boats and then suddenly, we were immersed in Gentoo penguin central. Cuverville, is home to one of the largest Gentoo penguin colonies in Antarctica with ~6000 pairs. Nearly every nest had two chicks.

Circling around the adults and small chicks were the ever-present Skuas.  Skuas are large predatory birds that are powerful on the wing and skilled in aerial pursuit. They are intelligent birds and can be quite curious.  Their behaviour reminds one of Crows and Ravens.

We were treated to another absolutely gorgeous day.  Again the temperatures seemed to be unusually warm.  Sunscreen is an absolute necessity.  Without it your screen will fry very quickly due to the hole in the ozone layer.

Half way through the landing a minke Whale showed up quite close to shore.  Occasionally minke whales will take the time to investigate small boats and people.  This was definitely a curious animal.  A few lucky people were able to see it right beside the boat!

Shortly after noon we weighed anchor and headed for our second landing of the day at Almirante Brown, a very small Argentine station in Paradise Bay.  From the ship we could see that the Argentina flag was raised and that there was someone home.  Most often when we visit, the base is unoccupied but this time there were six men there.  

Our good weather held for the afternoon. Most of us hiked to the top of a 90 metre hill behind the small base where we could see the entirety of the bay.   While it was a bit of a struggle to hike up the hill, the conditions were ideal for sliding back down!  Most people chose to slide instead of walking back down.

At 18:00 the last polar Cirkel boat left shore.  Tonight we will overnight at Peterman Island and 15 hearty souls will camp on shore.  Brrrrrr!