Tom & Holly Travels
since 2004

Subject: Day 13, March 3 – South Orkney Islands – Laurie Island


       Email:  Sending email is a bit tricky. Now that we have our list, the ship’s computer won’t let us just write to one individual. No matter what we do, it sends to the entire list. However, we seem to be able to receive email, and we can then reply. That seems to go through, at least so far. I want to tell all family and friends that we are thinking about each and every one of you. They give us some world news, so we hope the snow isn’t too bad Dianne in PA and Marcy in Alabama. Dad, I hope all is ok with you. Please drop is a line to let us know. Kelly, hope you had a fabulous mission trip. Say hello to Ryder and family. Judy, thanks so much for the local news. We, of course, don’t have that here. Thanks too for taking such good care of home and my buddy, Nikki.

     We had a morning Zodiac landing at Orcadas Station on the South Orkney Islands. It is the longest continually occupied station in Antarctica. It was set up by William Spears Bruce in 1903 and has been occupied ever since and is currently manned by 14 hearty Argentineans, each on a one year tour.  Now that winter is setting in, we will be the last ship and people they will see until next summer. They gave us some statistics. The wind speed is often 171 km/h and the total number of sunny days last year was eight. Yes, only eight days of sun.

      This was our first rough water Zodiac landing with water coming over the bow and it was quite the experience. It was also snowing to make visibility worse. We were told, “Welcome to summer in Antarctica.” Even though our jackets and pants are waterproof, when the water hit you, it felt was like being pelted with icicles. Extremely cold! My feet are still tingling. Haven’t experienced that since we lived in Nebraska. 

       Up until now we have been living in a dream world. Last night at the nightly recap and briefing, Hannah told us that we had had five in a row “once in a life time” experiences. The weather for the first four days was most unusual and being able to follow hundreds of whales was amazing. Our whale guide told us he has never experienced that (over a 100 orcas swimming with humpbacks, blues, fins, and right whales) in all the years he has come to Antarctica.

       A tad more trivia: It is good to be king! We had a lecture on whaling yesterday and they told us about each species of whale and how it was hunted nearly to extinction. We  also learned how and if they are coming back. During the whaling era, nearly 95% of all whales and seals were becoming extinct. However, they never mentioned the leopard seal and the orca (killer whale). Both at the top of the food chain. Well the leopard seal’s fur doesn’t appeal to anyone and they are not good eating. The killer whale was too fast for the early whaler to catch and when we could catch them, we found that they have very little blubber. In addition, because of their ability to swim rapidly, their meat has too much muscle to make them good eating. Yes, it is good to be king in their case.


More to follow,

Tom & Holly