Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Antarctica -- Pleneau Island and Palmer Station

The morning's activity was a Zodiac cruise in the vicinity of Plenau Island,  We didn't go ashore, but saw some spectacular ice formations and lots of seals and a few penguins.

On most other days, the Zodiacs dropped us off on shore, while the kayakers stayed in the water in a different location.  Today, we toured the icebergs with the kayakers.  The overcast skies with occasional sunlight made for some pretty spectacular pictures.

Although we didn't land, we did see lots of penguins (Gentoos) from the Zodiac

Here's are some shots that give you some perspective on the size of the icebergs.

And some stupid seal tricks....

A penguin considers the enormity of it all

I think this is a Leopard seal

And a few more icebergs:

After we returned to the ship, we sailed through the Lemaire Channel, which is one of the most scenic spots in Antarctica.  Unfortunately, it clouded over, so it wasn't as spectacular as some of the other places, but I'm not complaining.

Entering the Lemaire Channel

All hands on deck to view the Lemaire Channel

A panoramic view of the channel

Lunch outdoors while sailing the Lemaire channel

A chilly tourist

Another panoramic view

After lunch, and before the afternoon excursion, we had another lecture, including the topic "Penguins From Space"!

The afternoon excursion was divided into two parts.  Our first stop was Palmer Station, a United States research station (and t-shirt shop).  After that, we went to Torgerson Island, to see a few more penguins.  The visit to Palmer Station was special, because they only allow one ship a month to visit.

General view of Palmer Station

A drone used for undersea research

Some krill used for research--this is what penguins eat

Storage area at Palmer Station

The weather at Palmer Station was as good as it got--sunny and about 55 degrees.  This afforded one of the workers at the station to dress for the occasion:

I didn't really need the jacket (or the pants)

Because we were the only guests at the station that month, the staff had a reception for us, and served (among other things), "the best brownies in Antarctica".

Brownies and coffee at Palmer Station

Living conditions at Palmer Station were substantially better than those at Port Lockroy.  About 50 people live there during the summer, and about 25 during the winter. 

The kitchen at Palmer Station
We did discover that the Palmer Station staff actually cheat and use hand warmers:

After leaving Palmer Station, we headed across the strait/bay to Torgerson Island.

Torgerson Island welcoming committee awaits us

Adelie penguins

...and Adelie chicks
You lookin' at me?

Yes, it was that warm--for me, at least

Keeping an eye on Palmer Station

Penguin City

Add caption

Nothing in particular--I just liked the picture

Skua attack!  (No animals were harmed)

Meanwhile, the Argentine navy is still following us around....

After we returned to the ship, it was time for the Polar Plunge, in which insane passengers jumped from the ship into 29-degree, ice-chunked water.  We are not insane, and did not participate.

Participants saying their last goodbyes

Staff photographers ready to record the occasion
Here we  (or they) go.....

Meanwhile, there was some nice late-afternoon scenery about:

And as if that weren't enough, a few Orca whales showed up:

And, as if that weren't enough, it was now time for our Chocolate Festival:


After which we were forced to retire to the lounge and drink.

And gaze out the window at this:

Next: Cierva Cove and Spert Island

1 comment:

  1. Neil and Joan SatovskyMarch 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Very refreshing and certainly an awesome place. Thanks for your blog.