Saturday, January 13, 2018

Cuverville Island and Port Lockroy, Antarctica, January 13, 2018

Our first stop this morning was on Cuverville Island-

which lies in the Emera Channel between Ronge Island and the Arctowski Peninsula-

Belgium's Gerlach's expedition discovered it in 1897-9.  The cliffs are 650 feet high-

and there's a lot of moss-

The largest Gentoo penguin colony is here with 4800 breeding pairs-

There are also south polar skuas nesting and circling around, looking for lunch - penguin chicks-

which are in all stages of development-

They make their nests out of small stones gathered into piles-

After the island visit, I went zodiacing with Vladimir who is a whale whisperer-

There were 7 humpbacks in the near vicinity-

These photos ARE NOT zoomed!  This guy was very close-

The smell after he/she passed was so gross!  

More whale pictures-

The blow is on the right side-

in the middle-

and on the left-

It was a great morning and to think I was considering skipping out!  The sun was shining which was a bonus and it was so warm on the island I took off my parka.  However, coming home in the zodiac the wind had picked up and we got pretty well soaked.  It's a good thing we're wearing waterproof clothing!

After lunch, we went to Port Lockroy which is an example of a British Research Station.  It was established in 1944 Operation Tabarin during World War II to observe wartime enemy operations and remained operational until 1962.  After the war, 4-9 people studied the upper atmosphere which was important for sending high frequency radio signals, topography, botany, meteorology and geology.  The petite island was also used by whalers from 1911 - 1923 and there are bones-

chains and graffiti left.  In the 12 years of operation, 3146 whales were processed.

Today 4 people look after the museum and gift shop during the 4 months of summer.  They welcome at least one boat/day and visit the boats to enjoy a good meal and take a shower.  There is no running water on the island.  There is a lot to do work wise so they aren't really bored, although the smell would drive me crazy.  Penguin poo smells like a chicken coop, only worse!

Goudier Island was discovered in 1904 by Jean Baptiste Charcot during the first French Antarctic expedition.  After it was abandonned in 1962, it fell to ruin and it wasn't until 1996 when the Brits were told to either clear the site or renovate it.

It has a small post office and I've sent Nico a postcard so we'll see how long it takes to get to Edam!

The base leader's office -

The kitchen was hopefully well stocked.  Each base member took turns cooking.  Fresh water came from melted glacier ice.  All food was either dried or tinned-

The view from the kitchen sink - more penguins!  Probably the last thing they wanted to see-

The base radio operator maintained daily schedules with the office in Stanley, on the Falklands.  They also had regular contact with other bases and ships and could listen to the BBC World Service as well as other radio stations-

The bunk room had pictures of women on the walls and reminds me of a hostel dorm today-

After visiting the museum and shop, I wandered around the island.  That didn't take long-

More babies-

The Snowy Sheathed Bill is often called the Snowy Shit Bill because it hangs around the penguins and roots through their poo, looking for something to eat!  It will also watch while a mother is feeding and try to scare her so she spits out the krill she has regurgitated for her babies.  The Bill pounces on and feasts on the vomited krill.  The sheath around their beak is quite colorful- 

There were also cormorants nesting amongst the penguins-

We are not alone.  There are 2 sailboats around: one is a 4 week charter of Americans who are mountain climbing-

A leopard seal was lazing on the ice off shore.  They are carnivores and eat penguins as well as fish-

The Adelie is the third species of penguin we've seen but he/she should not be here!  None of the guides knew why he/she was here but it was a pleasure to see him/her.  The head is flat and the eyes have a white ring around them-

It was another awesome afternoon - very warm and so beautiful.

One of the three choices at supper was lamb shank.  Still not my favorite-

Tomorrow will be our last continental stop!  This trip has gone by so fast!

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