Thursday, January 11, 2018

Danco Island and Paradise Harbour, Antarctica, January 11, 2018

I woke up at 2:28 this morning and thought I'd have a look outside-

It wasn't dark!  Around 6:30 I woke up to sunshine and icebergs.  These are the views from my cabin-

Danco Island, which is not on the continent of Antarctica-

is in the southern end of the Errera Channel and is one mile long with 590 foot peaks.  The British Antarctic Survey Station O used to be here but it was closed in 1959.  Today it's covered in ice, snow, penguins, guano and rocks-

It's surrounded by icebergs-

There are 1600 breeding pairs of Gentoo penguins-

A chick popped out from underneath Mama-

and it was feeding time-

Orange kelp has washed up onto the shore.  It's very elasticy-

After spending about 1.5 hours on the island, it was time to tour in the zodiac-

We saw 3 Humpback whales numerous times.  The Humpback whale measures 17 meters long and weighs 90,000 pounds.  To feed, they often work together to form a circle of air.  As the bubbles come to the surface, they form a bubble cage that traps krill.  The males sing to attract the females and their 'song' changes from year to year.  They have an 11-12 month gestation which is longer than other whales because they need more time for brain development.  They can live for 50 years. 

First you spot their blow, then see their bodies-

and after they've been at the surface for awhile, you see their tail as they descend-

On the way back to the boat we saw more iceburgs-

Blue ice does not contain oxygen.  It's been squished out--

Our last stop was on a small rock island where we saw a Weddel's seal.  They are the second biggest seal after elephant seals.  There heads are really tiny compared to their big round bodies-

Another Weddel's seal-

And this was just this morning!

After lunch, we landed at Brown Station which is an Argentinian research station that presently has workers at it.  I didn't meet any.  They're studying meteorites-

We cruised Paradise Harbour and Skontorp Cove.  Paradise Harbour was named by whalers because of its protected anchorage.  It is deep and glaciated-

We saw a shooter which is similar to calving but it's rarer and an explosion on the bottom part of the glacier.

There are Antarctic cormorants, also known as Antarctic Shag Cormorants up high in the rocks-

A female is sitting on the nest-

Juveniles are completely black-

There's a couple courting on the right side-

A brown skua was hanging around, hoping to snag a baby cormorant for lunch-

We also saw some lichen growing on the rocks-

As well as a vein of malachite-

Crab eating sea lions were everywhere-

He has been in a few battles-

The front flippers look like big mitts-

Yawning, I think-

After the zodiac tour we went to the Peninsula of Antarctica and Base Brown Station.  I climbed up to the top-

and was finally on the continent of Antarctica!

Tonight is camping night so 60 people went to a nearby iceburg to sleep on the snow!  Don't ask me why!  I've never even thought of camping in the winter at home!  And it cost $300 US! 

Camping  means we won't be cruising in the night so I am hoping for an even better, calmer sleep!

P.S.  10 pm-

Looking forward to more discoveries tomorrow in Antarctica!

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