Day 6 |
Feb 04, 2016

Española

By Maria Betancourt, Galapagos Naturalist Guide
Coordinates:
1° 21.92’ S, 89° 44.60’ W
|
Air Temperature:
30°C

I woke up early this morning, and I witnessed a beautiful sunrise in front of one of my favorite islands, Española.

The Silver Galapagos anchored offshore of a beach called Gardner, considered to be one of the most spectacular beaches in the world -not only due to the color of the sand which is very white, but also because of the turquoise water.

I disembarked at 7:45 and I was really impressed with the colony of Galapagos sea lions lying along the beach. They were sleeping, or playing, or swimming -but always very active.

During my walk I discovered several other species of Galapagos wildlife, for example the Hood Mockingbirds, American Oystercatchers, Large Cactus Finches, lava lizards and marine iguanas basking on the rocks.

I found also the backbones of a big whale, I knew the cetacean had died a long time ago but the reason was still unknown.

Later I decided to go snorkeling and it was very nice, especially the colorful fish like the bicolor parrot fish, rainbow wrasses, and Panamic Sergeant Majors. There were also a few stingrays and some Galapagos sea lions.

Back on board it was time for a delicious lunch followed by a good siesta -waiting for the next activities in the afternoon.

At 2:45pm I went to the next visit to Punta Suarez, in the northwestern part of the island.

The walk was mostly over a boulder terrain, and there was fantastic wildlife all over the place: a lot of marine iguanas basking, sea lions with pups, a couple of Galapagos Hawks, nesting American Oystercatchers and Hood Mockingbirds searching for food.

But I was really happy finding a seabird colony of Nazca Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and fortunately I spotted a single Waved Albatross -which was out of season.

The Waved Albatross are only present on the island during the months of April to December, so to find one of these birds in February is really a miracle.

Having finished the hike, I embarked on the Zodiac going back to the ship leaving behind one of the most interesting sites of the Galapagos Islands. Looking towards the Silver Galapagos I was wondering about the surprises for the next day.

Day 6 |
Dec 17, 2015

Neko Harbour and Lemaire Channel

By Sheri Bluestein, Antarctic Research and Science Specialist
Coordinates:
64° 47’ S, 62° 46’ W
|
Air Temperature:
3°C
|
Pressure:
988 hPa

The day started with incredibly calm conditions but lots of ice in Neko Harbour under mostly cloudy skies. A scout Zodiac went out to check the feasibility of landing on the mainland and found that it was, indeed, possible to get the Zodiacs through the thick brash ice to reach a good landing spot on the beach. Gentoo penguins greeted us and almost immediately started to use the snow steps Travis created in order to get up of the snow ledges and off the beach.

Riëtte called for embarkation of the hikers and we were very surprised and pleased to welcome 95 guests to the shore for a short but rather steep hike up to the lookout point over the glacier and ice-filled harbour.

Just about everyone succeeded in reaching the top and conditions were so calm that many guests sat down on the snow and enjoyed the sweeping glacier views and the peacefulness until we were all delighted by two different glacier calving events. The first one dropped a large chunk of ice into the water, which created a small concentric wake. The other occurred on the portion of the glacier that had receded up onto the rock face.

Snow conditions were too icy for long sledding runs but Brad was able to find us a safe run in a short, steep section where it was actually easier to slide on your backside than hike down the hill. On the return to the landing site, we set the trail as a loop around the Gentoo Penguin colonies so that everyone had another chance to enjoy the penguins building tall nests of pebbles on rocky slopes and watch the amusing pebble stealing techniques used my various members of the rookeries.

Along the trail, we also viewed a variety of devices used by scientists and researchers in the area, including a glacier camera, an automatic weather station and penguin cameras.

After lunch, we were called out to the outer decks to see whales, which turned out to be 5 orcas, including one male. Those who were fast enough putting on their outdoor gear got an up-close view of the pod. Those who were a little slower getting ready had to be satisfied with Brad’s photos of the killer whales during recap. He also showed an outstanding video of the mind-bogglingly clever group hunting technique employed by killer whales. Unfortunately, we did not get to witness that amazing display today.

Our “Expedition Afternoon” continued with an attempt to be the first expedition cruise ship to successfully make it through the Lemaire Channel this season. All of the conditions were excellent and as we approached Booth Island, we saw that success looked quite possible.

Not only were we able to get through the entire 7-mile long and incredibly scenic passage, but the clouds lifted and we had gorgeous sunlight and visible peaks along its entire length.  It seemed as though all guests were out on one of the outer decks and everyone remained there or glued to a window in awe of the glorious sea ice floes, glaciers, and majestic peaks.

In high spirits, the guests joined us for Recap & Briefing with bright pink faces from their full day out in the sun and the breeze in the Lemaire Channel. Kara explained that we were currently already at Port Lockroy, tomorrow’s planned morning destination, but that the ice conditions may prevent us from landing.

We ended our evening with memory cards full of images and with high hopes of continued great luck for 100% landing success and fantastic weather.  Fingers crossed…

Day 6 |
Dec 17, 2015

Neko Harbour and Lemaire Channel

By Sheri Bluestein, Antarctic Research and Science Specialist
Coordinates:
64° 47’ S, 62° 46’ W
|
Air Temperature:
3°C
|
Pressure:
988 hPa

The day started with incredibly calm conditions but lots of ice in Neko Harbour under mostly cloudy skies. A scout Zodiac went out to check the feasibility of landing on the mainland and found that it was, indeed, possible to get the Zodiacs through the thick brash ice to reach a good landing spot on the beach. Gentoo penguins greeted us and almost immediately started to use the snow steps Travis created in order to get up of the snow ledges and off the beach.

Riëtte called for embarkation of the hikers and we were very surprised and pleased to welcome 95 guests to the shore for a short but rather steep hike up to the lookout point over the glacier and ice-filled harbour.

Just about everyone succeeded in reaching the top and conditions were so calm that many guests sat down on the snow and enjoyed the sweeping glacier views and the peacefulness until we were all delighted by two different glacier calving events. The first one dropped a large chunk of ice into the water, which created a small concentric wake. The other occurred on the portion of the glacier that had receded up onto the rock face.

Snow conditions were too icy for long sledding runs but Brad was able to find us a safe run in a short, steep section where it was actually easier to slide on your backside than hike down the hill. On the return to the landing site, we set the trail as a loop around the Gentoo Penguin colonies so that everyone had another chance to enjoy the penguins building tall nests of pebbles on rocky slopes and watch the amusing pebble stealing techniques used my various members of the rookeries.

Along the trail, we also viewed a variety of devices used by scientists and researchers in the area, including a glacier camera, an automatic weather station and penguin cameras.

After lunch, we were called out to the outer decks to see whales, which turned out to be 5 orcas, including one male. Those who were fast enough putting on their outdoor gear got an up-close view of the pod. Those who were a little slower getting ready had to be satisfied with Brad’s photos of the killer whales during recap. He also showed an outstanding video of the mind-bogglingly clever group hunting technique employed by killer whales. Unfortunately, we did not get to witness that amazing display today.

Our “Expedition Afternoon” continued with an attempt to be the first expedition cruise ship to successfully make it through the Lemaire Channel this season. All of the conditions were excellent and as we approached Booth Island, we saw that success looked quite possible.

Not only were we able to get through the entire 7-mile long and incredibly scenic passage, but the clouds lifted and we had gorgeous sunlight and visible peaks along its entire length.  It seemed as though all guests were out on one of the outer decks and everyone remained there or glued to a window in awe of the glorious sea ice floes, glaciers, and majestic peaks.

In high spirits, the guests joined us for Recap & Briefing with bright pink faces from their full day out in the sun and the breeze in the Lemaire Channel. Kara explained that we were currently already at Port Lockroy, tomorrow’s planned morning destination, but that the ice conditions may prevent us from landing.

We ended our evening with memory cards full of images and with high hopes of continued great luck for 100% landing success and fantastic weather.  Fingers crossed…

Day 6 |
Jan 12, 2010

Paradise Harbour, Neko Harbour

By Fritz Jantschke, Zoologist

Co-ordinates: 64 o 54.2’S 62o 51.6’W

Weather: Sunny, warm - beautiful

Air Temperature: 5º C

Pressure: 1005HPa

When I wake up around 5 o’clock, we are already well in Gerlache Strait, and I hurry out on deck as quickly as possible to see all the marvelous scenery and hopefully also wildlife. On the Bridge I am informed that only one whale was seen so far, resting peacefully on the surface. Many fulmars are flying around the ship and also some other seabirds. However, during the next hours I can spot only two Minke whales passing us. Great scenery of course, but not much else to talk about.

At 7:30 we arrive at Almirante Brown, an Argentinean station. It seems to be deserted this year. We are getting ready for action quickly, and at 8:15 the first Zodiac with guests is leaving the ship. In the end, seven of them are roaming the area. After observing a small rookery of gentoo penguins at the station, with some kelp gulls and Antarctic terns flying and the notorious Sheathbills milling about, we come to many nests of Antarctic shags high up in the cliffs. Their brown chicks are eagerly begging for food.

After admiring some fantastic icebergs in great shapes and colors I am searching the bay for greater things – and detect some seals lying on ice shelves. Zodiac driver Chris steers us gladly to the scene: Three crabeater seals are happily resting on the cold ice. In the distance I see another seal lying on a small ice flow. It turns out to be a leopard seal, the top predator and major enemy of the penguins in the Antarctic. It has absolutely no objection against posing for some nice photographs.

We are hardly finished with this photo session, when Expedition Leader Rich informs us that he is with some Minke whales. Of course we rush to that scene and can follow a couple of these smallest of the baleen whales for quite a while. At the end we are in vain trying to find “our” leopard seal again. We have to return to the ship and take on the next group of guests for another exciting tour of one and a half hours showing great scenery and wonderful wildlife (this time also the third seal species, a Weddell). All of our guests are happy about their morning excursion in one of the most beautiful areas of the Antarctic.

The cruise to our next destination is only short, but very scenic. And Neko Harbour presents itself in all its splendid grandeur in brilliant sunshine. The gentoo penguins breeding there apparently are very much behind schedule. Most chicks are still young, and there are even some eggs under the devoted parents. Most of the guests venture up the steep slope to enjoy the marvelous view over the bay with the gentoos breeding in various places. The brave ones even dare to do the sleigh-ride down a steep descent – and then have to wade almost knee-deep in soft snow. Others prefer to stay down at the beach to enjoy the warm summer day. They are rewarded by a Weddell seal that hauls itself out on the beach and has a leisurely rest there.

After this great landing, Captain Peter decides to give us another treat by cruising through beautiful Gerlache Strait again. It is such a lovely day that it is almost a shame to go to The Restaurant to have dinner. But thank goodness the dining room offers an excellent view, and so we have a most enjoyable finale to a great day with much more sunshine than anybody ever expected in the Antarctic. guests as we watched the Southern Ocean wash by, now that over half of our passage to the Antarctic Peninsula is complete.