Sunday, February 6, 2011

Antarctica, Our First Landing


Our first zodiac disembarkation goes as smooth as ice. One can tell that the Quark Expedition team here has done this many times before.


SAM 120 No surprise to me, it is a well run professional operation.






CAN 032 The zodiac ride is about ten minutes long to our landing spot and most of the zodiacs are filled like cans of sardines.






SAM 124 Initially, the seas are a bit choppy but this helps to make for an exciting ride.

A  few of us get a gentle spray of the polar waves every now and then.




Pulling into Yankee Harbor, named after a 1900's American whaling ship from the Boston area, the seas become calm and as our zodiac slows I can almost see straight to rocky bottom. The water is almost crystal clear.



SAM 137 I am in one of the last zodiacs to arrive.

The earlier passengers have already set out to explore around the island.






CAN 040 Within a few feet of our landing, penguins are all along the shore just busy being penguins.

Some walking around while others enjoy a late evening swim.



The wind is howling and the temperature is pretty cold, a fitting welcome for our brief visit. The animals seem not in the least bothered by our visit. Standing still a cute little penguin just waddles by me.



CAN 044



In the distant, elephant seals seem just as curious about me as I am about them. The cold temperatures and practically barren land are part of what I expected to see on our visit.

What surprises me are the isolated areas of growing green ground cover.  As low as the thermometer is now reading, it hard to imagine it is the beginning of spring here.


CAN 047 Now is also an active part of the mating season.

A couple of romancing birds are not in the least bit too embarrassed to remind us of that fact.



Walking near the shoreline some reminders  from the early 1900’s Whaling Industry still remains. Barrels that were used to boil and separate the animal fats can still seen in a rusting state of decay.

Fortunately, there is now a somewhat active program to clean up these areas.

It is now about 9:30pm and there is still a fair amount of daylight remaining. We have traveled far enough south that we are now getting the benefit of longer daylight hours.



SAM 139 Behind ski masks and hooded parkas, I think there are lots of smiles as we navigate the swells and rolling waves of the open seas back to the Ioffe.



We have just experienced a small piece of what Antarctica has to offer and it was quite amazing, wow!





E Squared and Mui said...

The yellow-jacketed species have invaded Antarctica I see ... :-)

DMBTraveler said...

We come in peace, bearing no foreign biological substances :)