Friday, April 1, 2011


14 March 2011

Another fine day. The crew can’t believe it. The sixth day with no wind and good weather. We have been just so lucky. It is very unusual not to have winds. They told us that the often have to abort landings due to the winds.

We had an early wake up call this morning so that we could watch the ship enter Deception Island through Neptune’s Bellows. The opening is 1300 feet wide. Often violent winds blow across the mouth of the entrance making navigation into Deception Bay difficult. This morning there was a light wind at the entrance.

The island is 1600 feet above sea level and the submerged base of the island is 15 miles.

The volcano is still considered to be active.

We went past an old whaling station.

We landed at Telefon Bay where a lone penguin met us. Penguins do not nest here but some may come ashore here for a visit. There was also a seal lying near the shore futher down the bay.

The terrain here is very different. There was not much snow.

At the beginning of summer there was 2 metres of snow everywhere. What we saw on the ridges was only a dusting of snow.

We walked up to the crater of recent volcanic activity.

There were some interesting rock formations inside the rim of the crater.

Some then walked around the top of the crater and down.

It was a rather desolate place. Not much sign of animal life.

Along the shore there was kelp and krill.

The very patient crew waited, as always, for us at the shore with the zodiacs.

Before we left several penguins had come ashore. I don’t think they were too impressed to find us all there.

From here we went to Pendulum Cove past ruins of research stations destroyed during the last volcanic eruption.

At Pendulum Cove there was a small area where the water is very warm as a result of geo thermal activity. Most of our group and others on board went for a swim in these water. The water was very warm at the edge but if you went further out it cooled down very rapidly. The problem was when you got out of the water. The air temperature was probably around 0 degrees. So you needed to dress again very quickly.

Before long we were heading back out of Deception Island through the gap.

In the afternoon we went on our last landing on Livingston Island.

The sun peered out through the clouds. It was not as bright as the other day but it was lovely. As the afternoon progressed the sun came out fully.

We landed at Walker Bay. We are now in the South Shetland Islands. Livingston Island is the southernmost of the Shetland group of islands. The land is no longer ice blocked in. We are futher north now and there is much less snow and ice but not for long according to the guides. There are fragile grasses amongst the rocks in several places.

There were thousands of penguins, many different types of seals and birds here. The penguin colonies were very evident as you looked around the island.

After landing we traversed in single file across to Hannah Point.

There was not much time to take photos as our guide moved us along at quite a pace as we had to pass a large colony of elephant seals.

Because they were so far back we had to do what we had been advised never to do – cross in fornt of them and be between them and coast line. After passing these seals we climbed higher so as to not disturb the wildlife below. The giant petrels were nesting along the ridges so we had to be careful not to disturb them.

There was a continuous penguin parade down along the beach towards the rookeries further down the island.

The elephant seals are huge. The elephant seals were lying close together as they were molting and needed body heat to keep warm.

There were several young seals and juveniles.

There were also arctic seals

and a crabeater seal here.

It was just so picturesque. What a wildlife sanctuary here! The South Shetland Islands provide a picturesque haven for wildlife that is abundance in here.

One part of the island was free of snow the other part was glacial. What a contrast.

I saw a shell – they are usually dropped by the birds in order to crack them so that they can feed on what was in the shell. There were whale bones in several places as well as algae.

Near the morain there was a stone museum with fossilised leaves, stems etc. – evidence of rainforest here milions of years ago.

Tiny flowers grew here as well as moss and lichens.

Whilst on the island we heard the glacier carving

and there was just so much ice floating in the water during our return trip to the boat.  There had been no ice floating in the area when we arrived.

It was our last opportunity to be on land in this end of the world. So many impressions, experiences, feelings were experienced during our visit to the driest continent, the white continent, the end of the world. It was time to take time out to contemplate the journey undertaken before setting back to the ship.

As a penguin swam up to the shore and joined the penguin parade

we were getting ready for our last zodiac ride back to the ship.

From the zodiacs we had our last glimpse of those precious penguin colonies.

As we boarded the ship for the last time there was sense of regret that we were leaving this wonderful place.

It was time to say good bye to the white continent as we steamed north.

In the evening we celebrated the 70th birthday of one of our party. The staff decorated the area where we sit with ballons and made a cake for the occasion. After dinner we retires to the lounge/bar area tocontinue the celebrations. It was amazing how much food member’s of the party produced for this celebration.

What a wonderful trip. Unforgettable!

No comments: