Our first landing today was on D’Hainaut Island, a tiny speck of an island in the middle of the large glacier fronted cove called Mikkelsen Harbour. The first thing we saw when we stepped ashore was three Weddell seals. They are some of my favorite seals with their gigantic round eyes and cute face. The two closest to the landing site were reasonably “active” too by seal standards. The lying around like a big fat sausage was interspersed with tail waving, head lifting to check us out, huffing and breathing out of one nostril and sometimes even a few whimpers and vocalisations with the chest heaving appropriately…
This little island is a bit of a gem as there are no restricted areas and people can roam freely visiting the hut on the other side of the island and the many scattered penguin rookeries. The high point is a great viewpoint to admire the 360o views of gigantic glacier faces. The remains of the whaling boat near the landing site were also just visible and some of the whale bones surrounding it were starting to poke through the snow. Despite being a grey day, the wind wasn’t too strong and hence made for a pleasant morning.
However, by the time we went out for our Zodiac cruise in the afternoon we had wind free conditions and it was beautiful cruising around this scenic place. Of particular note were some absolutely gigantic icebergs that positively dwarfed any nearby Zodiac, and a very special iceberg that was not just bright blue, but had three amazingly shaped arches. They actually reminded me of Taj Mahal windows. Almost everyone saw more Weddell seals this afternoon also as they lazed around on ice floes or bergy bits. Some of us were even lucky enough to see some Weddell pups -which is very special. Pushing through the brash ice in a Zodiac is a magic experience and makes you feel a bit like a true Antarctic explorer and made you appreciate what Shackleton and his men must have lived through!
The wind was just starting to pick up again by the time we came back after the second cruise, so we timed it just right. We had a very full Recap & Briefing and there was so much to talk about. Yesterday felt like such a long time ago, I could barely remember what we did this morning when I was trying to recount the day’s activities!
Looking forward to a true expedition day tomorrow – we will be attentive to anything that might come our way.