Subject: Day 9, February 27 – Antarctica – Deception Island
We were up at 5:00 this morning to witness entering a needle passage to Port Foster which is the 9.2 mile sunken caldera of Deception Island, an active volcano. It is part of the Shetland Islands just off of the Antarctica peninsula. The bay was the old deteriorated Hektor whaling station with rusting boilers and dilapidated buildings. It operated between 1912 and 1931. Most structures were damaged by mud flows during recent volcanic eruptions. The last was in 1970. We donned our warm weather clothing, outer water proof pants, waterproof Wellington Boots “Wellies” and made our way to the gangway to climb aboard the Zodiacs. After a very short ride and a wet landing, we were immediately welcomed by yelping kelp gulls and saw our first Gentoo Penguins, Fur Seals, and one Weddel Seal. The penguins acted as if we were just another rock on the beach but the fur seals wanted us to keep our distance and there was no doubt in one’s mind what they were telling us. Very territorial but allowed us to get close enough for some great photos. Of course, to a “wanted-to-be-geologists, the rock formations inside the caldera were the most breathtaking part of that stop. After about 2 hours on the island, we returned to the ship for breakfast and a quick nap as the ship moved on to our second landing location. It is also peasant to walk around the ship without having to hang on to both walls.
As we were writing this, Hannah announces, “Humpback whales off the port side.” The advantage of this small ship is we immediately stop and sneak in for a closer look. After looking at the humpbacks for awhile, we continued on to Half Moon Island. This is a small volcanic rock island loaded with thousands of Chinstrap Penguins. There is also a very small 14 man Argentina scientific seismographic monitoring station that is manned from December to the beginning of March. The only thing on the small island is penguins, seals and lots and lots of rocks. Talk about a remote assignment, they offered us chocolate to keep us around so they would have someone different to talk to. After lunch and the boat repositions we are going to have our third landing of the day.
After our three landings today we are now experts on getting on and off the Zodiacs. A real trick in rough water and you had better remember your waterproof pants. Incidentally Penguins are definitely not an endangered species.
More to follow,
Tom & Holly