Monday, February 06, 2017

Antarctica VIII.

1-23-17 CAPE LOOKOUT, ELEPHANT ISLAND: We motored north overnight to Elephant Island, 150 miles from the peninsula, and after lunch we did a zodiac cruise. There was a moderate swell making for a bouncy ride, plus dense fog, mist, drizzle made the visibility poor. Half way to the island the ship disappeared in the fog.

This part of the island is composed of black rock, very steep cliffs and crags, surrounded by rocky islets, well polished by the surf. This spot is the southern tip of Elephant Island.

There are penguins everywhere, mostly chinstraps, but a few Macaroni’s. We saw fur seals and elephant seals. The fog, swells, drizzle and ocean spray made it tough to take pix as everything was wet and rolling.

Lookout Point, Elephant Island, inhospitable looking in the fog, wind and waves. Zodiac landing out of the question.

It looks like another volcanic island. The cliffs are eroding. All those white dots are penguins.

Penguins pretty much everywhere.


Fur seal in middle, elephant seal behind.

Fur seals and elephant seals.

Fur seal male.

Two more macaroni penguins hanging out with the chinstraps.

1-23-17 POINT WILD, ELEPHANT ISLAND: The plan was to zodiac cruise Point Wild after dinner. Shackleton landed there after escaping from his ice prison in Antarctica, and after the Endurance was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea. Frank Wild was Shackleton’s second-in-command, and the spot is named for him.

Shackleton sailed from this spot in an open boat to South Georgia Island, 800 miles to the east, with a few of the men. The rest of his men, under Wild’s leadership, were rescued from this spot later by Captain Luis Pardo, a Chilean from Punta Arenas. A bust of Captain Pardo stands there now. It looks like the only landing spot for miles around. There was too much swell to launch zodiacs, so we only saw it from the ship.

Point Wild is that gap in the black cliffs. It looks like the only place to land on this part of the north coast of Elephant Island.

That vertical thing at Point Wild is a bust of Captain Pardo.

1-24-17 DRAKE PASSAGE: We’re motoring north across the Drake Passage in mild to moderate seas with the swells moving from west to east. The wind is from the south so it’s comfortable on deck with little apparent wind. The temps are in the thirties. The sun occasionally breaks through the overcast sky. Petrels, prions, albatrosses, appear briefly but rarely close enough to the ship to get a picture.

1-25-17 DRAKE PASSAGE: We’re still headed for the Falklands, about 500 miles from Elephant Island. There have been lectures and lots of marine life. We just saw a pilot whale and earlier saw hour-glass dolphins. There were penguins and seals at sea and a variety of petrels, prions, shags, shearwaters and albatross. This afternoon the clouds cleared and we had lots of blue sky and a nice sunset.

Black-browed Albatross.

Black-browed Albatross.

Southern Great Petrel.

Wandering Albatross or Southern Royal Albatross?

Drake Passage Sunset.

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