Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

January 31 - February 2, 2010

Words will not suffice here.  There is no other experience like Antarctica, and you have to be here to fully appreciate it.  The scale of everything here defies imagination.  We have seen abundant wildlife, including penguins, seals, flying birds and whales.  We have seen lichens growing on the rocks.  We had a visit from some of the workers at the Palmer Station who told us about the work they do.  On our second day we saw an Argentine Station and a Chilean Station, along with lots of gentoo penguins and crab-eater seals.  For two days we had incredibly beautiful weather.  On the third day we learned the truth of what we had been told by the experts: it does not matter what you plan; it is guaranteed that you’ll have to change your plans at some time during your visit to Antarctica.  We missed seeing iceberg alley due to bad weather and heavy ice.  But we had snowball fights and a snowman built by one of the crew.  

Even though we can’t land because our ship exceeds the capacity specified by the international agreement, we have still had the opportunity to get in close to the wildlife and it has been very satisfying.  When you stay on the ship you have the opportunity to go inside to warm up whenever you want.  And that is nice because with the wind chill factor it gets very cold here, even in the height of summer.

The sailboat pictured here, which does have at least one person on deck, is probably at least 30 feet long.  The penguins on the iceberg (photo below) are of the gentoo variety.  The brown bird is a Brown Skua, and this photo is of the gentoo penguin colony in Paradise Bay.

Our third and final day in Antarctic waters taught us that it can and does snow any day of the year!  We did get to see Elephant Island, and this huge iceberg nearby.  What a surprise to find a lot of chinstrap penguins on the iceberg.  They are all over the left side of the ice berg, going half-way to the top, and also on the dark spot about half way across the ice berg.  Nobody can figure out how they got so high on the iceberg.   What we do know is that they are very enterprising creatures that accomplish incredible feats.

There are a few additional photo in the album.

A brief note about the Falkland Islands, which was supposed to be our next port on February 4: due to very bad weather, that stop was canceled.  What we did not know beforehand was that there is only a 50/50 chance of being able to get there.  It was very disappointing to miss this port because the excursion we had scheduled was going to be a wonderful birding expedition.  But there was a little consolation:  the captain gave everyone a glass of champagne at dinner, and while at dinner we were entertained by four giant petrels soaring outside our window throughout the meal.  Hopefully some day we will get to visit the Falkland Islands.

                                                             Gentoo Penguins                                                  

© Susan L. Stone 2015