Sunday, February 05, 2017

Antarctica VII.

1-22-17 GOURDIN ISLAND, ANTARCTICA: Our first hike was on another volcanic island to see a gigantic rookery for Adelie penguins, a new breed for us. They were everywhere, on little islets off the beach, on the beach and extending upwards to the top of the ridge. I counted babies and adults in one small section—there were more babies. Some of them are almost grown and some quite small. There were the usual predators—gulls, skua, and sheathbill. We saw one penguin chick eaten by skuas.

One adult penguin on the beach was busy building a rocky nest. He/she picked up walnut sized rocks with its beak and carried them to its pile/nest. It seemed to me to be late in the season to be starting a nest, I wondered if its chick had been killed. We saw one chinstrap and one Gentoo penguin.

I have the cold now, so both of us are ailing. After the morning visit to the rookery, there were cruises of the ice—I passed and went back to bed. The ice that we’re seeing now was blown in on easterlies from the Weddell Sea. It’s called tabular ice because many of the bergs are rectangular with flat tops, and some are bigger than the ship.

The afternoon excursion to Brown Bluff was cancelled because of the intrusion of the ice pack. Watching the smaller pieces of ice go by we saw lots of penguins and seals. The plan now is to head north to Elephant Island for tomorrow’s adventures.

Gourdin Island is off the northern end of the Antarctic peninsula as we head north. We landed where you see the 'red' penguins. If you look closely, the whole island is covered with penguins.

Adelie penguin, our fourth species, the macaroni penguin was the third species. The Adelie has a black head, stubby beak, and blue eye.

The Vavilov is dwarfed by the ice. These 'tabular' bergs, because they look like tables.

Adelie penguin steppin' out. the red stuff is trampled kelp.


Adelies, more chicks than adults in this image.

Cruising the ice.

Southern Fulmar coasts by.

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