Antarctica Adventure - 2002

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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