Sunday, December 11, 2016

Antarctic Trip: Landing in Antarctica, December 10, 2016

Landing on the Antarctic Continent at Orne Harbour, Latitude 64°37'S Longitude 62°32'W

Early morning in the still water of Antarctica we woke to glassy seas and overcast skies in Wilhelmina Bay at Enterprise Island. After breakfast we dressed for our first excursion onto the water. Passengers were divided into groups of eight for each zodiac (inflatable boat) and we were off to look for some of the residents and cruise around the icebergs. Just before setting out, a group of feeding humpback whales were spotted.

The humpbacks were concentrating on lazy feeding and didn't put on much of a show.

We saw our first penguins in Antarctica. A couple of chinstrap penguins were enjoying the frigid day until we came along. Chinstrap penguins are very cute but when they look at you straight on, they look like cartoon characters with the strap looking very much like a big smile.

Orca pod-Antarctica Group B
Orne Harbour, Antarctica, with Sea Adventurer expedition ship at anchor

The afternoon excursion was a zodiac ride to Orne Harbour on the northwest side of the Arctowski Peninsula to set foot on Antarctica proper and to see a large Chinstrap Penguin rookery. The Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins lay their eggs in nests they have fabricated with rocks and sticks on rocky outcroppings. This is so the egg never comes in contact with ice/snow. Once the egg is laid, the mating pair alternates sitting on the egg with going down to the sea to eat. Once the egg hatches, they continue to alternate nesting and feeding duties bringing back food for the chicks. Some of the rocky outcroppings are quite a long distance from the sea and very high up. It was impressive and Sisyphean-like (as the term applies to laborious not to futile) journey of survival made many times each day by each penguin.

The small black dots are Chinstrap penguins on their journey between nest and sea and the slope they are walking is almost vertical.

Like the Chinstrap penguins, we carefully made our way down the steep icy slope back to the sea and the waiting zodiacs. We've just set foot on our seventh continent!

Sunrise: 02:29
Sunset: 23:36

No comments:

Post a Comment