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Antarctica with pictures Vol 3

Thursday, March 21, 2013

OK, so our first landing was magical, with the beautiful quiet snowfall. The weather for the next 5 days proved to be almost miraculous! We had bright sunshine the rest of the entire trip. Other ships landing in various spot,s were prevented from landing by rough seas and high winds. No matter where we went, we had bright sun, calm seas and almost windless conditions. The Expedition Team was floored! Each night they would go over the projected activities for the next day and preface it with something like "This isn't in concrete" or "If conditions permit". And each day we woke to this glorious weather! Here's our ship, sparkling in the bay at Cuverville Island.

Here we had a huge colony of Gentoo Penguins (4800 breeding pairs!). Since the chicks had already hatched you can imagine how many penguins confronted our senses!

In addition to the penguins we also saw whale bones on the beach and seals lounging about in the sun.

You have to remember that penguins are flightless birds, so they do have feathers. During their summer months they go into a molting process. The lose their feathers and get this fluffy, plush coat. While their feathers are waterproof, the plush looking coat does not insulate them from the temperatures of the sea. So during this process, they cannot eat. It takes about 3 weeks to complete the process. This little guy is almost done with his molt. If you look closely at the first picture you can see the beginnings of his molt.

In this picture you can see the Gentoo Penguins with a Leopard Seal on the ice flow. The Leopard Seal has no natural enemy and they can be very vicious. This one must have been pretty well fed as the penguins exhibit no fear of him.

Later that day we sailed into Neko Harbor and actually set foot on the continent, not an island. Here we also had the Gentoos and saw a very cool calving of a glacier. The broken piece hit the water and caused quite a lengthy series of big waves that hit the beach just as a group was approaching the shore. They got a pretty cool ride! Fortunately they were in no danger. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the calving, just the aftermath.

Here is the picture of my foot on the continent. Ice cube and all!

And Grand Circle was kind enough to provide this cool banner so that those of us who were on our 7th Continent could commemorate it in pictures.

We were on our way back to the ship when this seal decided to join up. He stayed with us for quite a while, then lost interest.

Remember I mentioned that the "ground" is actually penguin poop? Well, the way they relieve themselves is quite a show! You'll notice in the next picture that the rocks had white streaks across them. Well, the penguins will turn and squat a little then then let it rip! That poop flies about 4-5 feet straight out and believe me, you don't want to be in the path!

We had some incredible sunsets. It was light till about 10pm and the sun rose about 5am. Fortunately we had black out curtains in the cabins, although that means I never got a sunrise picture.

That night we were given the news that the next day we would be, "if conditions permit", landing at Port Lockroy, and much to our surprise, we could actually do some shopping! Who knew there would be a shopping opportunity in Antarctica?! Woohoo!

Stay tuned!

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  • LINDAK25
    Fantastic! The penguins and seals are magnificent, although, I have an acute sense of smell and while you say you get used to it, I imagine it's pretty pervasive with all the layers of poop!

    That sunset is beautiful. I'm glad the Goddess of weather smiled down on you. How fortunate you were!
    1798 days ago
    Thisa fantastic! It sounds like you had the best trip out of many. Lucky. emoticon
    1800 days ago
    1800 days ago
    so very cool and thanks for the pics!
    1800 days ago
    I am loving your journey and the memories they trigger. We were fortunate on our trip, too, that the weather cooperated for all the landings. I still need Africa for my 7th continent (or 5th, depending on which school you went to, for my friends who were taught that the Americas and Eurasia each constituted one continent). For DH, Antarctica was his last continent.
    1800 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1800 days ago
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