Antarctica Adventure - 2002

ANTARCTICA Following Ernest Shackleton With extensions to The Falklands, South Georgia Island and Chile Escorted Travel: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises January 14, 2002, through February 6,2002 Author: Lois Gray Photos: Kay Gilmour

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C ONTENTS on The Road Again............................................................................................... 4 Buenos Aires......................................................................................................... 4 Plaza De Mayo .................................................................................................. 4 Casa Rosada...................................................................................................... 5 Recoleta Cemetery........................................................................................... 7 Ushuaia And The Ms Hanseatic ......................................................................... 9 Cape Horn ........................................................................................................... 17 The Drake Passage............................................................................................. 23 Neko Harbor ....................................................................................................... 25 Paradise Bay ....................................................................................................... 29 Port Lockroy........................................................................................................ 31 Lemaire Channel ............................................................................................ 33 Deception Island ................................................................................................ 36 Bailey's Head Beach....................................................................................... 36 Whaler's Bay ................................................................................................... 40 Paulet Island ....................................................................................................... 45 Brown Bluff ..................................................................................................... 47 King George Island And Penguin Island.......................................................... 50 Frei-Marsh Base.............................................................................................. 51 Russian Bellingshausen Base ....................................................................... 53 Penguin Island ................................................................................................ 55 Passenger Rescue .......................................................................................... 58 Elephant Island............................................................................................... 59 Ship Troubles...................................................................................................... 63 The Scotia Sea And The South Orkney Islands .............................................. 65 Day At Sea ....................................................................................................... 66

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South Georgia Island ..................................................................................... 68 Grytviken Museum......................................................................................... 69 The Lutheran Church..................................................................................... 71 Sir Ernest Shackleton Grave. ........................................................................ 73 Drygalski Fjord.................................................................................................... 75 Gold Harbor ........................................................................................................ 75 The Shackleton Walk...................................................................................... 81 Salisbury Plain .................................................................................................... 86 Prion Island ......................................................................................................... 88 King Haakon Bay ................................................................................................ 90 Another Two Days At Sea.................................................................................. 92 The Falkland Islands .......................................................................................... 94 Sea Lion Island................................................................................................ 94 Falklands War Of 1982 .................................................................................. 96 Bleaker Island ................................................................................................. 96 Stanley ............................................................................................................. 97 The Flight........................................................................................................... 104

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O N THE R OAD A GAIN Day 1 American Airlines flight from Miami to Buenos Aires was excellent for the passengers not crowded (so sleeping was easier with several empty seats allowing better sleeping conditions) and no scary incidents of any kind. This was a new airplane to us (or perhaps a refurbished one) with little video-screens on the back of each seat. Rather neat for watching the movies or news or whatever. Landed at Buenos Aires around 9:30 AM and were taken to Hotel Intercontinental which was very nice. Took a nap for a short while and then got up to explore B.A. after 11 years absence. As an aside in 2016 as I review this journal, consider the change in entertainment technology developed in only 14 years! B UENOS A IRES Day 2 Lunch at the Terazo del Virrey, an outdoor restaurant for the hotel, which gave us hints of things to come had we but been clairvoyant. It was a lovely setting with the tables nicely spaced beneath a high, tent like canopy hung on lovely wrought iron posts. The food was excellent, but it was difficult to keep the napkins on the table or our hair on our heads because the winds were blowing strongly and steadily. As it turned out, the wind would be a fairly constant companion on this whole trip: tormenter, air-freshener, hindrance, exhilarator, bogeyman, and artist. There were many flowers blooming all around us, hibiscus, bougainvillea, bromeliads, all in rainbow hues, and all being tossed about by the wind. P LAZA DE M AYO After lunch, we went on a pre-arranged city tour and were taken first to the Plaza de Mayo, the very same place we had vowed not go near since it had been the center of political demonstrations over the years. Sure enough, there was a “manifestation,” as our Argentinean guide quaintly labeled it, going on right then. It was more a sad to see than a frightening. The people were very orderly and were obviously country folk; there were the men, women, children, old and young, who have been so hard hit by the meltdown. There were probably 500 people altogether and they marched along to drumbeats of their own making carrying signs denoting their unemployment, their financial desperation, and their demands that their government does something to help them. There were masses of police

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surrounding the marchers and stationed all over the big plaza and at all the government building surrounding it.

C ASA R OSADA Eva Peron’s old home, the Casa Rosada, was tawdry in all its partial coats of different hues of pink paint. Apparently, each new president gets to put a fresh coat on the building, but because the presidents haven’t stayed in office long enough to get the paint job completed, the next guy decides on a different shade and starts a new one. So it’s now decorated in about 6 distinct tints of pink. Because of the “manifestation”, we could not get near the Cabildo, the old government house, or the Cathedral.

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Then our driver maneuvered us out of all the crazy traffic downtown and took us to the Recoleta area to see the more prosperous section of the city as well as to visit the cemetery where Eva Peron now finally rests after the strange migrations her body took after death.

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R ECOLETA C EMETERY Much work is being done in the Recoleta Cemetery with new tile walkways, added drainage pipes beneath the walkways due to the considerable subsidence of the earth. The cemetery is a city of its own including the tomb of Eva Peron.

We drove through the gracious Recoleta residential community and also toured Puerto Madero where old waterfront warehouses are being renovated into stylish apartments, condos, shops, and restaurants.

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We were also taken to La Boca, a district near the port where the tango was born and where working class folks have always lived. Much of this city is really quite lovely; there are many public parks with stately shade trees. We were driven down the Ninth of July Avenue, a wide street marking Argentinean independence. The buildings were tall and prosperous looking demonstrating the influence of Spanish, English and French architectural styles. We got to revisit the pedestrian mall with the fashionable shop, La Avenida Florida. It still looks like there are good stores with pricey things displayed in the windows, but one can only wonder who has the money or the nerve to be spending “big bucks” in this economy. The tour lasted three hours and did give us a chance to compare the Buenos Aires we remember from l989 with the present city. It was a beautiful day of a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds with a fresh breeze keeping us all alert. Other than the demonstration and the presence of so many policemen and military, we saw few changes in the city except that it looked somewhat tattered with more trash in the street, and buildings less crisp and bright.

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But the people were still friendly and smiling in the streets and restaurants. After supper on the terrace again, our room beckoned with showers and comfy beds. We knew, too, that the real adventure started tomorrow when we had to be up and in the lobby by 4:30 AM to board our bus for a trip to the domestic airport to catch our chartered flight to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. So it was lights out at 10PM. U SHUAIA AND THE MS H ANSEATIC Day 3 We had set our clock for 4 AM knowing that we could be dressed and downstairs in plenty of time; however, the cruise personnel apparently did not trust its passengers and must have told the hotel to give us all wake-up calls at 3 AM. Bummer! So we and stayed abed until 3:30 and then stirred about getting ready to go to the lobby. There were grapefruit juice and small croissants awaiting us as a reward. Shortly thereafter, we got on the bus as scheduled. The domestic airport was quite new having been just finished the year before the economic crisis occurred. It was very nice and very well organized. Our flight left at 6:30 AM and we were in Ushuaia by 9:30 AM. There was a big fiasco with the luggage as the folks in Tierra del Fuego tried to figure out how to apply the new security restrictions to arriving luggage. We waited over an hour while the authorities decided how we would reclaim our luggage before it was put on buses to be transferred to the ship. Finally, they unloaded the bags onto the baggage carousels and we each had to identify and claim our luggage, carry it to the main entry-way, and then leave it again this time to the ship’s baggage handlers. And all this was dealing with luggage arriving at this airport from within the same country! Can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been leaving the city by air. We were puzzled but never did get a satisfactory answer to the dilemma. However, one thing that traveling teaches is patience and a willingness to “go along” without any rational understanding of why things are as they are. Next, we were put on buses into town and we were really amazed at the changes in this little “southernmost city in the world" since our last visit 13 years ago. When we were here before, there was a population of about 20,000 and now there are 45,000. There was no industry to speak of then and very few tourists; the town was small and tightly packed into a downtown area with a museum, a couple of small and rudimentary hotels, a few simple restaurants, and some service businesses like grocery stores, gas stations, book stores, etc. Now, the city was much more spread out and there were Internet cafes on everyblock.

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The city was surrounded by light industry (mainly assembly plants), the two older hotels were gone and new ones had sprouted on the hillsides above the downtown area. Everything seemed geared to tourists rather than residents. The city is rising along the flanks of the overhanging Andes which are snow-covered even at this time of year. It still retained all the interesting character we saw before in all the many colored buildings and roofs.

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We walked the streets a bit, marveling over the changes. Then we went into a Locuteria+) (internet shop) to send e-mails to those at home. We walked to the Museo we remembered so well and that put us in front of the harbor where our ship, the Hanseatic, was berthed. Since she was not yet ready for our boarding, we were picked up by bus and taken out for a picnic in the national park of this island province. Since there were 120 passengers on this excursion, they divided us into two groups so that boarding would go more smoothly. The Hanseatic carries a capacity of 180 passengers and 70-80 crew. The bus took us out into the suburbs and beyond to a local ski resort in the mountains where we had lunch which was a typical Argentinean lamb roast; it was as delicious as we had remembered!

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We were also taken to Lago Escondido which was a lovely alpine lake surrounded by mountains and glaciers with a wonderful little lodge on its shores. The Hosteria Petrel was set amid the most astounding array of lupine we had ever seen; not only were the flowers enormous, they also came in colors we did not even know existed such as reds, blues, purples, magentas, mauve, white, yellow. It was a really incredible display. A most interesting part of our little tour was the lecture on how destructive the introduced beavers have been in Tierra del Fuego. Someone decided that since there is so much forestland and rivers and streams here that beavers fur production would be a good business for the area. So about l950, 35 pairs were introduced and they obviously loved this new habitat. Now there are over 40,000 beavers and they are eating all the trees, especially the native beech (lenga tree) which is being eradicated. These North American beavers reach incredible sizes in these parts, 70 pounds or more because they have no natural enemies and there is plentiful nutrition for them. Worse yet, the fur business idea failed because the pelts these immigrants produce never achieved commercial quality. Evidently, the beech trees sustain beaver growth, reproduction and even

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make excellent dams and lodges, but the nutrition they provide does not make for good fur. So nobody traps the beavers and they continue to eat their way through the lenga forests. It really doesn’t pay to fool with Mother Nature. Castor Canadensis evolved in North America and never got to South America by natural migrations and evolutionary pressures and the artificial introduction was not an unqualified success.

Finally 4:30 PM came and we were taken to the ship for a very smooth and quick boarding process and we found ourselves in a luxurious cabin, with a full marble bath, acres of storage space (including closets), a comfortable couch, table and chair, window instead of porthole, twin beds, refrigerator, dresser, TV and VCR, and 3 bedside tables. All this, even though the ship is only 440 feet. long with 85 passenger cabins. It was a wonderful home away from home for this adventure. As soon as everyone was aboard, we were called out for lifeboat drill even before the ship left the harbor. Later on during the voyage, we realized that had we known the kinds of seas we would be facing, the weather conditions, and the icebergs, we would have been much more anxious while hearing all the

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instructions and warnings that were covered during the drill. They were very matter-of-fact about “abandoning ship”, fires on board, getting into lifeboats, and all the other necessary safety procedures. Tied up at the dock in Ushuaia, we could be very blasé about it all too, but later on there were times to reflect.

Mud Room

Next, we did some ship exploration on our own, finding the two different dining rooms, the bars, lounges, and theater as well as the reception desk and the all-important “side gates” though we did not recognize their significance then. The expedition leader, Geoff Green, a Canadian with 57 Antarctic trips to his credit got us together to explain what kind of trip we had signed on for and how things would work on the voyage. We learned about Zodiacs, disembarkation and embarkation procedures, rules for visiting in Antarctica under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, daily recap and briefing sessions.

We were introduced to the experts on board who would be our guides and teachers: Klemens Putz, a German penguin scientist (one of only 100 such experts in the world):

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David Fletcher, an English historian and manager of British Antarctic Survey stations for 27 years; Don Walsh, an American oceanographer; Patty Hostiuck, an expert on Antarctic seabirds and seals. They were really a formidable team of scientists (all with Ph.D.’s in their fields) who provided excellent lectures all during the “sea days” and on-the-spot information to us at landings. Now, we were completely primed and ready. So after our first of too many delicious gourmet suppers, we went out on deck where the weather was still mild as it had been in Ushuaia to watch the twinkling lights of the city fade into a glorious sunset over the Andes with birds shadowing the ship all the way out the Beagle Channel into the Atlantic .

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Were we excited? Are youkidding?

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C APE H ORN Day 4 Cape Horn The temperature when we arose today was 50 degrees and the sky was partly cloudy which seemed appropriate for “rounding the Horn.” Cape Horn is such a fabled place, but for such melancholy reasons. Here at the tip of the South American continent is the final toe of the Andes range, rising up sheer out of the sea to face the battling waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Almost always stormy, sometimes ferociously so. Many sailors have lost their lives trying the get round the Horn sailing from East to West. Back in the days of sail, the passage could take a few hours or even months if the Westerlies would not wane. We were shown schematics from ships’ logs outlining their zig-zag routes as they tried to “beat it round the Cape” against the wind. Sometimes, they would literally be blown backward for days. And if you are sailing south rather than West as we were, you are heading into the infamous Drake Passage for two days and nights until you reach the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Passage is 600 miles of tumultuous seas pouring from the West into the narrowing funnel until they can broaden out again beyond the Passage where no more land masses impede their gyres as they rush ever west. “Old Salts” knew what to expect from this ride, but we novices were innocent except for what we had read in books and seen in movies.

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But Cape Horn itself showed us an unanticipated friendly face! The sea was calm enough for us to be off for our first Zodiac landing—on the Cape! Who would have ever thought that could be possible? We quickly learned that Zodiac cruising would be fun and we will always be grateful to Jacques Cousteau, their creator. Basically, the little crafts are rubber rafts with a metal flooring, a squared off the back end where the outboard motor sits, with the side tubes of the raft ending in a pencil point shape. They are very stable and quite comfortable aswell.

The passengers sit 4 or 5 to a side on the rounded tube-shaped sides, and the driver stands at the rear handling the motor. If only one person is in the craft, the wind can get under the bottom and create a sail of the whole thing and tip it over front to back. Not a good bind to be in so the drivers are very careful when they are going into the wind with an empty Zodiac.

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The little settlement atop Cape Horn is a perpetually cold, damp collection of primitive buildings where the Chilean Navy stations one sailor and his family for a year’s duty. The young man who had just assumed the post in November had brought his schoolteacher wife and 5-year-old son with him. The boy will be homeschooled on this improbable school campus. The various structures on top of the rock massif include the snug cabin for living quarters, a little chapel, storage houses for food, fuel, weather and other scientific equipment for the tests the Navy man must perform throughout his year’s posting. The Chilean flag is painted on top of the buildings’ roofs so that there is no mistake about the fact Cape Horn is part of the half of Tierra del Fuego that belongs to Chile—not Argentina; - the two countries share the large island uneasily. There are rickety white wooden steps leading up to the top of the rock, a vertical climb of about 100 feet through tussock grasses, lichens, mosses, wild strawberry and blueberry plants, with seabirds nesting in all the ledges, cracks and crevices along the way and on the rock face all around the staircase. Supplies are brought up to the top by a pulley arrangement beside the stairs.

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The most dramatic structure on the island is the Cape Horn Memorial, a monument to all sailors lost at sea around this craggy rock. It is a large metal sculpture in two colors with a huge cutout place in its middle in the shape of the wandering albatross in flight.

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There is a poem chiseled into a plaque next to the metal sculpture which says in Spanish that the albatross awaits the souls of drowned sailors and so that they can fly with the bird always above the Southern sea. It is a lonely, but fitting, place for a memorial to the world’s sailors. The top of Cape Horn is windswept, treeless area, which receives very few visitors. The actual face of the Cape is about 400 feet high with no beach at its foot. There are some lone islets of rocks out from the Cape in three directions, but they only add to the dangers of the place. The sea relentlessly crashes against the rocky visage as though intent on wearing it away. But even this violent and riotous ocean has a lot of work to do before there is no more Cape Horn to affright the souls of modern sailors. Some of the birds we identified at the Cape were: black-browed albatross, grey-headed albatross, sooty shearwaters, giant petrels, imperial cormorants, and capepetrels. We all got back on board the Hanseatic with no problem with a system they have for getting even the frailest of the passengers on and off the ship safely. Two strong able bodied seamen are stationed at the side-gate and help you down into the Zodiac or pull you out of the Zodiac. It matters not how strong or agile you appear, whether you are male or female, old or young, the seamen take your arms and put you in and out. Lunch was somewhat a mixed blessing to several folks on the passenger list; though hungry after the morning’s exertions, many were too queasy since the Drake Passage was already beginning to show us that its fearsome reputation for heavy seas was not unearned. Many people ate little or nothing, including Kay, who was a bit queasy. The rocking and rolling afternoon passed with reading for me and sleeping for Kay, except when both of us tuned into Channel 2 on our TV to watch the lecture on “Plate Tectonics and Species Distribution.” It was interesting and went a long way towards explaining why we see similar animals in strangely disparate places on the globe. Afternoon tea was not on Kay’s agenda, nor was supper that night. As luck would have it, my stomach stayed quiet and I managed to make all the meals; so much for making this cruise a weight loss occasion. The ship was pitching and tossing sufficiently this evening that I saw two ladies fall over in their dining room chairs, even though the seats seems to be quite stable sitting on widely spaced legs. However, the ship rolled and these two ladies were spilled out on the floor. Neither was hurt but both were surprised, embarrassed and none too interested in completing their

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suppers. The wait staff was reeling about like they had been issued a bit too much grog to get them through the Passage and none of the plates, silverware or condiments wanted to stay on the tables. Everyone had to keep a close eye on their water glasses and plates as well. T HE D RAKE P ASSAGE Day 5 We awoke to long rollers, probably 10-12 feet high, with overcast skies and 7 degrees F. Walking in the ship was much easier than it was yesterday when the waves were choppier, taller, and intent on moving the ship in several different directions at once. Kay had her sea legs about her today and was able to partake of some breakfast. Maybe these “voodoo” wrist bracelets really do work after all. Spent most of the day running down the stairs to Darwin Hall in the bottom of the ship to attend lectures and then back up the stairs; we are refusing to take the elevators out of both pride and fear. Who wants to be in the elevator when the ship is swaying from side to side and back to front? We had four separate lectures from our onboard experts: on seabirds, seals, the Southern Ocean, and the rules for Antarctic visitors. These lectures really are quite good and we are learning more details than we’ll ever remember. The Drake Passage continued to remain fairly calmall day, so Kay felt much better. So we read, then bird-watched, took some more notes, ate, visited the library to research the penguins we would see, and ate, and stood on deck as long as we could endure the cold and wind. Suddenly, late in the afternoon, Smith Island loomed out of the fog as we left the Drake and entered the much smaller Boyd Passage, which would take us through the surrounding islands and right to the Antarctic Peninsula. We have been advised to rise early in the AM if the weather was clear because we would see some truly awesome scenery as we passed between the islands on the port side and the continent on the starboard. Right now we don’t see very much except occasionally when bare gray-black rocks peek through the fog curtain and sharp craggy mountain tops emerge from the “fog ocean” drowning everything. We did not regret seeing the Drake Passage in our wake.

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Day 6 Neko Harbor, Paradise Bay & Port Lockroy We were still in cloudy conditions in the early morning with some snow softly falling us. The sky was low and rather broody as we arrived, but it lifted somewhat and we even saw some blue sky patches that sent light onto the peaks and bergs. It was hard to convince ourselves that we were truly cruising down the Peninsula of the seventh continent. It really was a white/silver/gray world with clouds and sea blending into one. There was no obvious horizonand only the obdurate rocky faces and cliffs made any contrast at all with their stark blackness relieved only by the voluminous snow. Here, with silvery light coming from the overcast skies, even the glaciers and bergs showed little color, just ghostly hints of the blues and greens, which seemed to erupt out of them in sunlight.

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N EKO H ARBOR Our group, Zodiac Group A, was second ashore this morning at Neko Harbor on the Peninsula our first steps on the continent. We were met by Gentoo Penguins who stand about 32 inches high and weigh about 12 pounds. The white patch, shaped like an upside down light bulb, which narrows into the band running over the tops of their heads then widening out again above the other eye made their first human observers think of a turban. And that’s why they are called Gentoo, the word in German for turban. The little rookery was very busy rather late in the year according to Klemens, our penguin expert. They were sitting on eggs and on chicks and there were some older chicks, fully covered with down feathers in the nursery. When penguin chicks of all species are fully downed, they move out of the nest into a group containing all the rookery’s young. Then the parents come to find them and feed them there, identifying the right chick by its own particular call, that sounds like a cross between a whistle and a cough. Because winter comes in April, the chicks still in eggs or in the nest are

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probably doomed because they cannot get fledged fast enough. However, as Klemens said, penguins are pretty much “hardwired” by instinct and they just kept working on raising their young. Baby penguins cannot swim in their down because it has no water resistance and no buoyancy.

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Their nests are made of pebbles picked up on the beach and arranged in a circle and cemented loosely with guano and mud. The Gentoos lived in the smelliest rookeries of all the species we saw. They are such fetching little critters and it’s hard not to anthropomorphize them with their wonderful dignity even as they waddle along on land; guess it’s the tuxedos that lend them their formality. They also look so vulnerable in their harsh environment. But they are dogged in their many trips down to the sea to bathe or eat or swim and then back laboriously up the impossibly high slopes they live on. We learned that they preferentially choose the highest spots available because they are clear of snow first and because they are safer from predators, particularly the leopard seals, the orcas and from the sea itself which can wash away nests that are too close to water’s edge. This rookery was on snow with some bare patches containing the nests. So the penguins had regular deep trails from the nest area and the nursery down to the sea and then other trails back up. Penguins are very orderly in their marching and usually proceed back and forth between land and sea in little groups, sticking to the proper up and down routes. Surely it is much easier than breaking a new trail through the snow each trip. So they show some

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smarts too and nature has certainly equipped them well for survival in the miserable conditions of the Antarctic as demonstrated by the fact that all species are thriving except for one, the Rockhoppers, which are being intensively studied to determine the reason for their precipitous decline. Conditions in Neko Harbor changed rapidly and often: lots of ice, then less ice, snow or no, blazingly clear light one minute and then shadows and mists the next, calm seas with little ripples on shore and then bigger rollers coming in. This all in the space of a couple of hours while we were on shore enjoying wildlife. Besides the penguins, we saw a Crabeater Seal (who does not eat crabs, but krill), a Weddell Seal, and some Leopard Seals that is the only seal species that eats penguins. All these pinnipeds were sleeping on shore or on ice floes close to shore and would merely raise a head when the Zodiac motor woke them up. Apparently, the inactivity of the leopard seals made the penguins fairly unconcerned because they kept up their parade to and from the beach. We had more respect for their tenacity and stamina when we attempted to climb up the hill through the same snow behind an abandoned Argentine refuge building which the birds are using asshelter. The climb was steep and I fell many times through the snow up to my knees. The constant falling and getting back up made the climb more arduous than the grade would suggest. At least the penguins don’t fall through. This tiny beach was certainly a marvelous and auspicious place to first set foot on Antarctica. Its atmosphere and terrain, as well as the wonderful wildlife viewing, were humbling and inspiring. Guess we’ve fallen in love with penguins.

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P ARADISE B AY

Our second Zodiac experience of the day was a ride around Paradise Bay. Pouring into the bay are six enormous glaciers and many smaller ones. The bay was ringed with massive mountains covered with more snow and ice. We were just so amazed at the enormity of the scenery and with the realization that what we were seeing was only one bay in a continent bigger than the US! The scale of Antarctica is hard to comprehend because there is so little around to give perspective to the features of the land: the mountains, the nunataks, the glaciers, the glaciated and etched rock faces. Our bird expert reminded us that in addition to the Gentoos, we had also seen Antarctic Terns, Snowy Sheathbills, Blue-Eyed Shags, Wilson's Petrels, Skuas and Cape Petrels.

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The Snowy Sheathbill is an interesting little bird with chicken feet that stands about the size of a domestic hen. It patrols all kinds of bird rookeries—not to eat the babies or break the eggs—but to provide garbage services to his neighbors by eating spilled food and even guano. This activity helps to keep the areas policed. The Wilson’s petrel is a small bird in comparison with the other petrel species. The skuas are predatory birds that do eat the eggs and nestlings of other birds including those of the penguins. They are a handsome bird, quite large (bigger than the biggest crows we’ve ever seen) and a rich chocolate brown color.

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P ORT L OCKROY

Our third time off the ship today was to visit Port Lockroy, an old British Antarctic Survey post that now serves as a Gentoo rookery and a museum. The buildings have been carefully restored to their circa l950s look and they are manned during the winter by some ambitious Brits who sell stamps and cards and other little gift items to support the upkeep of the museum and they will accept mail which takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks to reach the US. It has to await a ship which will take it to the Falkland Islands from whence it heads for the UK and then is finally sorted and sent on the places in the USA. We mailed a couple of experimental postcards just to see how long it takes to get them here. The buildings were made of wood and were sturdy looking. These hard working fellows have even painted the trim on the eaves and windows a bright red which is a welcome spot of color in the “film negative” world of snow and ice. The rooms are all designed to be used by several folks at the same time, probably necessary to add warmth to what the inadequate heating sources provide. Now, of course, nobody tries to exist here in winter, but back in the 40s and 50s, it was a working scientific station,

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doing primarily on Glaciology, volcanism, and ice coring. Just to prove to us that we really are in Antarctica, it snowed and hailed on us during our visit to this lonely outpost in a spectacularly awesome setting.

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L EMAIRE C HANNEL Day 7 We awoke to another cold, rainy, snowy, foggy, leaden sky day with choppy seas but no rollers. Out on deck, there was ice clinging to the railings and blowing in our faces. It took courage to stay outside of the cozy stateroom. There was no Zodiac expedition in the morning due to the weather conditions.

However, the Hanseatic took us cruising in the Lemaire Channel, a narrow bit of ocean running between the Peninsula and the outer islands. Maybe it was even better to see this bit of the world in such inhospitable conditions because they probably added to the impressions we formed. The land we did see on either side muscled its way out of the fog and snow occasionally so that we could discern the architectonic mountains plunging right into the sea beside us covered with millennia of snow and ice, cradling glaciers calving directly into the waters around us. A strange glowing light bathed the mountain tops and the snowfields startlingly and periodically—maybe the sun was trying to burn an opening in the damp cloud and fog rags hanging in nature’s theater.

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We saw some Adelie Penguins floating by us on bergie bits along with other passengers, the seals. The Channel is short and so narrow that ice often clogs it completely. As we slowly pushed our way through, we learned about brash ice which is loose ice in easily movable small pieces that pose neither hindrance nor threat to ships or boats. Then there's the pack ice that can be highly dangerous when it piles up and is moved about by the ocean swells and currents or when it blocks a channel or the stretches of ocean with solid ice as far as the eye can see. Floes, which are pieces of the pack that have broken away and now float about on their own, are particularly dangerous as they move about following the wind, sea swells and currents. Interspersed in this channel with the pack ice were “bergie bits” (small ice bergs posing no particular threat as long as they are not hit or flip over creating waves that could swamp smaller boats) and “growlers” the rotten remains of melting bergie bits which float low in the water and rub against the sides of a boat creating the characteristic “growls.”

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The Lemaire was too small for any big bergs to be within its confines and if one had tried to get in, the whole channel would have been blocked. Even though it was very cold and the wind was blowing 40-50 knots, no one wanted to go inside because the scenery and the sounds of the wind, the ship rubbing its slow way through the ice, and the birds crying above and around us, and the constantly changing light were just too mesmerizing. So we all endured painfully cold toes and fingers so we could see as much of this magical place as possible. Everyone wanted the picture to be clear and lasting in his mind’s eye. This, after all, was what we had come to see for ourselves in this forbidding land. We were heading towards Petermann Island to go ashore in the Zodiacs, but the pack ice was too thick in the Lemaire for us to go further. So our captain turned the ship completely around in the Channel and we head out towards the Peltier Channel which took us back around Port Lockroy. Even though we were all disappointed at not getting to disembark at Petermann, we were hopeful that the afternoon would afford us another chance at a landing after lunch where everyone tried to re-warm their sore extremities. Around 3:15 PM we got off the ship again, this time as Cuverville Island. Weather conditions were much improved with no more snow, higher skies, and warmer temps. Because Gentoo rookeries have a characteristic and potent odor, you can tell from quite a distance out that you are approaching one. This island contained several Gentoo rookeries sitting on snow and exposed rocks. This snow was deep enough to pull you in hip deep so that you could get your protective rubber pants wet with snow and gluey guano. But it was still fun to walk along the pebbly and boulder-strewn beach where we saw two whale ribs and a surprisingly huge whale vertebra in our path. When we turned from the beach and headed up the snowy slope, we could icebergs on the other side of the island and actually watched one “roll” when a significant piece of it calved and changed the balance. The berg was an iridescent blue which shimmered in the gunmetal gray seawater.

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D ECEPTION I SLAND

Day 8 Deception Island is the remains of an old volcano caldera which was used as a whaling station in the heyday of that bloody enterprise. The island is part of the South Shetlands. The day began a little better than any we’ve had recently in that there was some partial sunshine. The morning was wet and wonderful with sunlight glinting on the raindrops and all the wet surfaces of rock, ship, rubber raft, parkas, and sunglasses.

Bailey’s Head was the beach we aimed for in our first Zodiac expedition today.

B AILEY ' S H EAD B EACH The beach is guarded and protected by a huge rock monolith which helps keep the seas from being quite so tumultuous. When we landed, we thought we were on a black sand beach typical of volcanic islands; however, we were quickly told that we were actually walking on a glacier covered with volcanic ash and pumice stones. Even we were so informed, we could not really tell that it was so. Chinstrap penguins were in residence here. These cheerful little fellows are 27 inches high and weigh only 9 pounds. This rookery as the largest we’ve yet seen with between 60,000 and l00,000 breeding pairs. They are spread all over the beach and up the caldera walls as high as we can see.

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Most of their chicks are well on the way to fledging and are in their nursery/kindergarten groups. The ever-industrious parents are in constant motion heading down to the sea or back up to their chicks for feeding. It is really both funny and humbling to see these little guys working so hard at parenting. Though they are wonderfully balletic and fast in the water, land is not so kind to them. They trudge and they waddle and they struggle up the steep places. Their feet are huge for their body size and have prominent toenails that help themget a purchase on the boulders and steep sides they must ascend.

Also meeting us on the beach were five adult fur seal males. We had been told how closely we are allowed to approach any wildlife and most of the creatures require a 10-meter circle to feel comfortable. However, we were instructed to give the fur seals 30 meters of space since they can move very rapidly; they are able to rotate their hind flippers under them and thereby “walk/run” on land very efficiently. Their bite is particularly nasty and is l00% infective because of the shape of their teeth which retain bits of whatever their last meals have been. So we had been forewarned to avoid being chomped on by a fur seal. These

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young males were actually more interested in confronting each other than they were in us but we were still careful to give them their space. Lazier ones were just snoozing in the blessed sunlight. When we passed by them at eye level (we were walking in a streambed below the shelf they were lounging on), we could see why they had been hunted almost to extinction. Their fur is really quite beautiful in texture and colors and it has terrific insulating properties. It is estimated that before sealing started in the nineteenth century, there were approximately 2 million fur seals in the world. When sealing was halted, the population was down to a projected 60,000. Now, just 40 years later, there are about 4 million fur seals in the world and their exploding population is putting pressure on habitats of other creatures everywhere because they are taking so much space on the few beaches available. Scientists speculate that this enormous overpopulation is due to the abundance of krill in the ocean. That krill is so extraordinarily available because there are not enough whales left to eat it down and the fur seal population is out of hand. Whales are slowly coming back with the whaling moratorium except by a few countries like Japan and Iceland, so it is hoped that the food supply for fur seals will level off so that they get back down to more manageable numbers. The sunlight was magnificent and seemed to lift both human and animal spirits. The penguins were playing in the surf and washing themselves and beating their flippers back and forth with impressive speed.

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We learned that if they are overheated, the underside of the flipper will be pinkish because the capillaries there are the only way they can release heat. Jumping into the water helps insofar as it bathes and cools those blood vessels in the flippers because the rest of the penguin body is so well insulated that they do not lose heat in other body parts. So we saw lots of little pink under-wings as they enjoyed the unaccustomed sunshine and warmth; it was probably up to 35 degrees F. To give the fur seals the wide berth required, we had to ford a little glacier stream with rather steep and crumbly sides. While we worked at figuring out the best way to get down the slope, into the swift waters, and onto the other side, the chinstraps merrily crossed much more gracefully than most of us. They look such merry little fellows, with a dark “chinstrap” line under their bills in the white part of their head; it actually almost looks like they are grinning broadly.

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The other thing that may make chinstraps looks so happy is that their rookeries are not nearly as smelly as the Gentoo nesting grounds. We never knew exactly why since all the species eat pretty much the same things, krill, and squid. But our Herr Professor Klemens assured us that it was so—the chinstraps are much less odoriferous. It’s very difficult to view the colonies as a living whole and not worry about the individuals we watched. If one was limping, or thin, or slow, or obviously sick, it was just not possible to ignore his plight saying that overall the population is healthy and in no danger. It must be very hard to observe these trusting little birds objectively and not interfere with Mother Nature by trying to rescue ones that don’t look strong enough to survive the next swim with the leopard seals, much less the coming winter. We saw the first green we’ve seen since leaving Cape Horn on Deception Island’s Bailey Head Beach. At first, we were all excited thinking we seeing tussock grasses again, but we were quickly disabused of that hope. Instead, the caldera slopes were covered in patches of lichen and alga which gave the walls their surprising colors. There was also no white on this beach at all and even up on the higher slopes, there was none except where there was exposed glacier ice. After this wonderful landing, we sailed off again towards Whaler’s Bay , Deception Island on the other side of the island from Bailey Head. W HALER ' S B AY This part of the enormous caldera which comprises Deception Island is entered through a narrow opening in the wall of the collapsed volcano; the gap is known to sailors as Neptune’s Bellows because the winds and waves make entering the harbor somewhat challenging to a ship captain. The boat actually floats through this opening into Port Foster. On the other side of this ocean-filled bowl is the beach area where many different human activities have taken place over the years—whaling, exploration, scientific research. Still active scientifically are the Spanish and Argentinean research bases; the British and Chilean stations were destroyed by the most recent eruption in the l960s. The remains of the whaling station have been derelict even longer. Our visit to this rather melancholy spot was actually quite super!

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The volcanic black sand beach is very large both in length and width. The backdrop for the bay and the beach consists of the rest of the caldera wall which is probably 500 feet tall. The beach was littered with evidence of the killing ground this place once was whale ribs, vertebrae, femurs, etc. The resilience of nature is also demonstrated here by the presence of fur seals, chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, and seabirds of various kinds. However, this spot is not a rookery for penguins or other birds and no one reports seeing whales enter Port Foster. As remembrances of human activities here, there are tumbledown sheds, a skeleton airplane hangar and the red fuselage of a 1940 vintage aircraft. Piles of barrel staves, which we at first took for whale ribs, were actually the supplies to build the receptacles for the whale oil to be shipped from this station. The whale oil tanks and the rendering furnaces stood rusting on the beach, harshly bloody against the blue sky we were enjoying. There were old wooden whaleboats lying about as well, some upright and others tipped over - all weathered into a silvery patina that was almost beautiful but definitely picturesque.

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The volcano in its violence was excellent at destroying the works of man, at least no human being died in the eruption - though the five British stationed here had a very close call.

There was another gap in the caldera wall above the south end of the beach which invited a climb to peer through “Neptune’s Window” as it has been called. Legend has it that Nathaniel Palmer made the climb and looked through and got the first ever glimpse of Antarctica. One of the more intriguing facts about Antarctic discovery and exploration is the fact that these early explorers really were the actual first human beings to see and set foot on the continent because no indigenous human beings have ever lived here. So unlike the European discovery of the New World (when there were already peoples living here), these fellows really did land on the seventh Continent first.

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However, when we looked at Neptune’s Window,, clouds effectively hid the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula from our view, so we would have failed to discover the continent had we been the first to check out the view. We walked the entire length of the beach and forded the pretty little glacial stream running from the top of the caldera mountains to the sea. We looked with pleasure at the doughty penguins frolicking in the surf; these were penguins without the apparent cares of parenthood since there were no babies or adolescents at this site. They toddle down to the beach like little babies learning to walk, get their feet wet in the surf, wait for a

bigger wave and then sort of fall in head first. Then you see them “porposising” through the waves with such streamlined efficiency. Next, through the clear ocean water, you can see them flying under the surface with even greater efficiency. Their grace and maneuverability in the water are really quite splendid. After they have finished bathing and playing, they await a bigger wave which sort of flings them back up on the shore where they often land face and belly down. Then they pop up sort of like a Shmoo doll from L’l Abner, for those of you old enough to remember, and then regain their dignified carriage before waddling away from the tide. What improbable but wondrous creatures they are.

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Some of our more adventuresome party took the opportunity to take a plunge in a shoveled out pool. We didn't.

Later in the day, the ship called at Jubany Station, an Argentinean base, on a nearby island where we off-loaded two young female German scientists who would be spending the summer working there; one was doing research on skuas and the other on crabeater seals. It too is a lovely spot, with glaciers meeting the sea, a nunatak, which is a mountain buried all but its very top section in a glacier, and a volcanic plug called Los Tres Hermanos guarding the bay opening. Volcanic ash sits under the two research stations here but does not cover the glaciers which are severely white and frigid looking. The buildings of the Argentinean and Spanish stations sat side by side were fairly new looking with grayish-black siding. The rooftops of the Spanish were orange and tops for the Argentineans were red. The gaily painted national flags decorating part of the roof of each main building added some color to the black and white world. It was true, we could not

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