Friday, 15 February 2013

Misty mythical Antarctica

We woke up to a moody Drake with big swells, more wind and fog.  But it was clear we had crossed the Antarctic Convergence and were now truly within the Antarctic Ecosystem.  The change was marked with colder temperatures, but also with many more cape petrels and other birds that take advantage of the more plentiful food in these frigid waters.
In preparation for the landings in Antarctica (and while it was conveniently foggy) all passengers attended to obligatory briefing about the protocols established by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO).  At once, the fog lifted:  everyone knew what the guidelines would be once in Antarctica, and suddenly, there, in the clear, was Livingston Island.  We could feel the buzz on the ship as we started to disembark at Half Moon Island.  Elephant seals, fur seals and giant petrels greeted passengers on the beach, skuas flying overhead.  The greatest attraction, however:  chinstrap penguins.  Scruffy looking, and waiting for their parents to feed them, we could observe the chicks and adults, for the first time, in the wild – an experience few will ever forget.

The day closed with the traditional, and ever so popular, crew and expedition team fashion show.  After a long full day, we went to bed dreaming of penguins, glaciers, and perhaps of some of those good looking models, wondering what tomorrow might bring.