Visiting Antarctica

Part Fourteen

This is the end: we leave the land and head back through the Drake Passage, which was rougher on the way back. How rough was it, the elevator was closed. If the boat is rocking, hold onto something.

Once land was in sight, we did see an hourglass dolphin riding the waves from the front of our boat.

We spend one last night on the boat outside of the port, I’m assuming this is due to the uncertain nature of how long the Drake Passage will take. We had a beautiful sunset outside of Ushuaia.

Then it was the arduous trip back home.

Happy Mother’s Day

Here are some cute photos of animal moms and their babies to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Elephants are pregnant for almost two years, and baby feeding happens near Mom’s armpits in the first two legs vs. the back with goats, cows, and horses.

Hi Mom, look at this thing I found lying on the ground! This a phrase most parents dread.

Don’t worry; Rhinos are born without horns.

Don’t mess with a Mama bear or any mother with her children!

Bison calves weigh 30-70 pounds at birth, that 13.7 to 32 Kilograms.

Do storks deliver their babies to themselves?

That would be helpful with human babies.

She’s about 5 seconds away from falling alseep.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Thirteen

Last stop in Antarctica Half Moon Island. We have all three penguins on this island, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adélie, and some more cool rocks! We’ve also reached the part of every vacation where you want to go home but dread the trip back.

Baywatch penguin, walking in slow mode out of the ocean.

The seagull is diving into the water, looking for some fish.

The white ring around the Adélie Penguin’s eyes makes it looks shocked!

And now the cool rocks.

Penguins and an Iceberg.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Twelve Deception Island

This island is in South Shetlands and is a caldera with an active volcano; the last time it erupted was in 1969. It’s still so warm that snow doesn’t stick to the shoreline, and the rocky beach has a red hue. It was once a whaling station, but they didn’t want to deal with the lava. It has been used as a science station, but only in the summer.

We have some new animals on the island, the first is a female elephant seal, and the other is the chinstrap penguin. The elephant seal is sunbathing next to old tankers used to hold fuel (whale oil and, later on, gasoline). Remember, I have a good zoom lens; I’m not close to the seal.

I guess the elephant seal like a firm mattress; I’m not sure what sleep number matches steel.

We also saw fur seals during yoga; I love those long whiskers.

Hey, can I get a deep-fried krill meal deal? What do you mean those are penguins and not waiters in a tux??

Oh that hit the spot.

One Gentoo Penguin with a posse of Chinstrap Penguins.

I like the reflection in leftover water from the last wave. It’s a band album cover.

Some of the buildings that remain after the volcano erupted, I’m surprised the wood didn’t burn.

Science vessel passing through the island, checking up on the tourist.

The “modern” gas/oil tanks.

We close up with Cape petrel just bobbing in the ocean.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Eleven Mikkelsen Harbor

The beach was mostly cleared of snow and Ice, which allowed me to see some cool rocks! Some of the larger chunks of snow and ice created some great images and more penguins.

I think the darker rocks make colors pop; this was on the same 40-foot or 12-meter stretch of beach. I was able to capture water drops falling from the melting ice into a freezing puddle; and some ice formations.

I captured a Weddell seal doing yoga exercises; does anyone know what pose this is?

The other seal was channeling me on the weekends. Its fur pattern reminds me of a calico cat. We leave with the penguins playing king of the mountain.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Ten Cierva Cove

In the song 12 Days of Christmas day 10 is ten lords leaping; I present the updated lyric ten penguins leaping. The below images were taken from the balcony of the ship, a group of penguins in the water is called a Raft (a group on land is a waddle).

We didn’t make landfall for this stop, we tour a zodiac around the cove. Below is an example of how galcier ice is different from the sea ice, the glacier ice is in the middle and it looks like a dinosaur head or maybe a dragon head.

The birds in this image are rock shag birds, and are around 66-71 cm or 25 inches tall, to get a scale of the rock and snow in the back ground.

We add a new anaimal today, the sea lion, check out the tiny triangle ears.

Fun Fact, Glaicer ice is so compact due to the pressure of multiple ice layers. It creates textured bubbles and it’s so clear because the pressure pushes out air bubbles.

Net week is Mikkelsen Harbor.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Nine Paradise Island

It was snowing. People, boats, and cameras were getting wet, but the penguins were fine with the snow. Of course, I don’t speak penguin so maybe they were complaining about it.

Paradise Island is where we saw dirty penguins; that’s not a euphemism; they do get dirty. Too much muck will mess up the waterproofing on their wings, so they take a bath in the ocean. The smaller Adelie penguin is not a baby, it’s just smaller than the Gentoo penguins, but it’s covered.

Below are a series of penguins jumping into the ocean for a bath or maybe food.

Below are two different iceberg types or shapes, the first is a Tabular iceberg, Tabular icebergs have steep sides and a flat top, much like a plateau. The other is non-tabular and I think looks like a hand curled around a snowball; what do you see? 

We have another person running up that hill.

This island’s summer research station looks like a model inside a snow globe.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Eight Danco Island

Today’s blog is about Danco Island, where the Penguins like to dance; their favorite is the hop. The gentoo pengin just nailed it’s landing, hopping from on rock to another.

Danco Island also had some very cool rocks, great patterns, colors, and shapes. There were two heart shaped rocks and a green rock resting in a puddle that looked like a frog.

I did find a tidal pool with starfish and some kind of plant, i’m guessing kelp or algae.

I also saw

I like to think the penguin is looking up at the flying birds with envy. We also have a new bird to add to the list a Snowy sheathbill, aka Chionis albus, they blend in very well. The only bridge color it’s in pink face and beak.

The water from the tide rollling in froze over into this ice wave pattern, it even had it’s own small icebergs. Sometimes it pays to be borded and just wonder around looking at everything.

I included the cruis ship to help with scale.

We are nearing the end, the last stops are Paradise Island, Cierva Cove, Mikkelsen Harbour, Deception Island, Half Moon Island, and the return to Argentina.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Seven Petermann Island

Petermann Island has a built structure; it’s one of the refuge huts in Antarctica, and Argentina built this one in 1955. If something happens, the weather turns nasty, and you need a place to hunker down, you have this building. All the ones I saw were painted red because the color sticks out. I do love the idea that the penguins might use it when the tourist are gone. Maybe the penguins in the photo are planning a pizza party once we leave the island.

There are some stunning peaks on Petermann Island; the dark-colored jagged rocks contrast nicely against the white fluffy snow.

There were two penguin colonies on this Island, Gentoo and Adélie; the penguins took turns going back into the ocean to get clean. If their feathers are too dirty, they become less waterproof. The large boulders on the only clear beach way lead to penguins jumping from rock to rock. You can see just the tips of the penguin’s feet on the rock. Somehow they make jumping look cute.

This is the farest south we went, we turned around and started heading home, with a few stops along the way.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Six

Today we sailed through the Lemaire Channel, where the jagged cliffs were covered in fog. It did make it more ethereal and spooky, like Peter Jackson’s King Kong screen where they run into Kong Island.

Here’s a clearer view on the way back out once the fog was gone.

A thin layer of sea ice had formed in the channel; as our boat sailed forward, it pushed the thin ice lily pads together to create thicker ice off the wake. In the photo below, you can see the thin ice lily pads, and near the bottom of the image, it’s thicker as all the thin ice was smushed together.

Another example is sea ice forming over the ocean; saltwater freezing at 28F or -2C, so it’s frigid.

I wasn’t feeling that good this morning so I passed on the first trip off the boat, but it did give me time to watch the penguins swimming. All the penguin tv shows, movies, and photos are of penguins on land that you forget penguins spend most of their lives in open water. I also didn’t realize that penguins are fast underwater.

To evade predators, penguins randomly leap in the air and sprint in the opposite direction. If you want to get a photo, they jump 3 or 4 times and then sprint; they also jump as a group.

They also seem to like a pool party.

The penguin colony I could hear from the cruise ship. I’m guessing they do some snowboarding in the U-shaped dip.

That’s all for today! Stay tuned to this bat channel next week for Petermann Island.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Five

It snowed; probably the only snow I will see this year, but I got snow in Antarctica, and somehow it wasn’t cold. Maybe the cuteness of penguins warmed my heart. Or I dressed in layers and kept my mouth covered; breathing in cold air just makes you cold, so wrap a scarf around yourself or get out that cloth mask.

We get a new Penguin at Neko harbor, it’s a little smaller than the Gentoo, and they lack the splash or orange around its eye and beak. This new penguin is an Adélie penguin; notice the white eye ring a bit like a monocle.

The Gentoo and Adélie were sharing this harbor, and I caught a Gentoo sneaking up on an Adélie. It’s a penguin photo bomb.

I did watch the Penguin’s courtship calling; they tip their heads back and yodel. You know the feeling if you have been to a packed public event. Honey, where are you? I’m over here; where’s here?! It also reminds me of a kid in the mall, mom, mom, Mom, MOM, MOM!!!!!

Also saw some birds; the first is a Kelp Gull, and the second is a Brown skua.

It was so quiet around the Harbor that the only noise we could hear from the boat was the penguins. Sound carries over the water, so you heard them before you saw them.

The last photo from Neko Habor is a snowball-sized iceberg from sea ice. These ice flakes are the start of sea ice.

Visiting Antarctica

Part Four

On the second day out of the sea, we had two stops, Enterprise Island and Neko Harbour. The names are a bit misleading as we circled Enterprise Island in a Zocdica boat and landed on Neko Harbour.

The cruise around Enterprise ISland included Iceberbs, a Seal Leopard, and snowshoers. The snowshoers were from our boat and paid money to hike up a mountain with deep snow.

We have another look at the snowshoe’s, at the bottom of the photo are two penguins and the gear bags. You can see the “footprint” they made from the bottom of the mountain and then look for the silhoeutees on the ridge line.

Two Gentoo Penguins guarding the gear.

We were all wondering why the penguins stayed in the spot for so long, then we saw the Seal Lepord.

The hunk of metal behind the seal is an old whaling ship, which caught on fire and sank. Bleow are some Artic Terns resting on the rusted metal.

Last part of this trip, the ice and icebergs.

That’s all folks! Next week is Neko Harbour