Friday, February 03, 2017

Antarctica V.

1-20-17 DANCO ISLAND, ANTARCTICA: We had two stops after the campers came back aboard. First was to an Argentine research base, Almirante Brown, where Val and I climbed to the top of another hill, passing by several Gentoo penguin rockeries. The climb was steep in a few places, and the trail in the snow was slippery and frozen in spots and slushy in other places. Gorgeous vistas of the harbor made the slog worthwhile.

Back at the base of the hill we saw a snowy sheathbill. The weather is changing from cloudless to high, stringy cover, but it’s still sunny and there’s no wind. A Weddell seal was napping on one of the ice floes.

We did zodiac cruises along the shore to see two Blue-eyed Shag colonies on the shore-side cliffs with chicks of different ages. Further into the bay we saw a hanging glacier about the size of a city block and 50-100 feet tall. It’s floating in the bay, but still attached to the part of the glacier still on the shore, making it a small ice shelf. It is partially broken into chunks, has tunnels at the water level, caves and vertical slits all in blue. The reflections in the still water of the ice, deep blue in places, was dramatic.

A new harbor at almost 65° S. Latitude, our southern-most position, a little over 100 miles from the Antarctic Circle.

The Vavilov and Almirante Brown Argentine research station.

Gentoo rookery up the slope.

The top of the climb with people using a variety of lenses.

Snowy Sheathbill.

Blue-eyed Shag colony on the rocks.

Feeding the baby.

Trying out the new wings.

Old Blue Eyes.

Floating glacier with reflections and changing sky.

That afternoon at Danco Island, we had another climb to top of the hill for 360° views, more Gentoo penguin rookeries and penguin highways. The footing was treacherous in spots, and I saw a couple butt-plants by the red penguins. The sky was now overcast and the wind had picked up, but there was no precip as yet. Besides the penguins, I saw kelp gulls, brown skuas and a skua nest and Antarctica terns and their nests. The terns were up to their usual nest defensive behavior, diving at anything perceived as an aggressor.

After dinner, we set out for Deception Island. The ship was rolling in the waves and scopolamine patches were on for Judy and Val. We saw Humpback whales close to ship before dinner.

The weather has changed and the wind has picked up.

Did I mention that Kayaking is an option? Here they check out the seals on the floe.

Gentoo penguins with maturing chicks at their feet.

Penguins stand with their backs to the wind.

Penguin highway, uphill lane.

Antarctic Tern.

Brown Skua.

Brown Skua.

Crabeater seal gets a visit from friend.

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