Day 7 |
Jan 24, 2010

Brown Base (Paradise Bay) And Cuverville Island

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 64o 56’ 40”S 63o 39’ 55”W

Weather: Calm partly overcast conditions with some light snowfall

Air Temperature: -3C

Pressure: 986 HPa

Today was a very busy day for us with two landings and a Zodiac cruise and after yesterday’s spectacular weather, we were hoping for a similar day today. When I got up and looked outside, I was mildly disappointed as the sky was overcast and the beautiful blue skies I had hoped for were nowhere to be seen.

Our first activity for the day was a landing at Brown Base in Paradise Bay. This is considered a continental landing, the second of our trip, and there is not much to see on the landing site. A walk was offered to the top of the hill, which gives one a great view across the bay, and for the adventurous few, it means that one could slide down on the ice and get to the bottom of the slope a lot faster than getting to the top.

I was driving Zodiacs and took two tours of just over an hour each around Paradise Bay and Skonscorp Cove. The Zodiac cruise around Paradise Bay is one of my favourite, as there is so much to see. We first go past the station with its Gentoo penguins and just around the corner we come across a colony of nesting shags, with their chicks, which are getting quite big now, but still rely on mum and dad for their food. The ubiquitous Snowy Sheathbill was there too, cleaning up the bird droppings and harassing the birds as they always do.

A little further on we got to see the nesting Cape Petrels, which are so well hidden that it was really tough pointing them out to our guests, although eventually everyone did get a good view of them. The malachite streaks down the cliff face is also one of my favourite.

A little further on we joined one of the other boats, which had found a leopard seal hauled out on some ice, so my guests had a good view of him, and later we were lucky enough to see the Weddell and Crabeater seals as well. Then a beautiful cruise around the huge blue glacier and some of the big icebergs meant that our guests were happy and looked forward to getting back onto the ship where they could warm up with a wonderful glass of hot chocolate as they came up the gangway.

Our afternoon landing was at Cuverville Island, which is a Gentoo penguin colony and where one could get a good look at all the chicks at their parents’ feet. I managed to find some Antarctic Hair grass, one of only two vascular plant species in the Antarctic, so it was great to be able to show our guests something really quite unusual.

We made it back to the ship and had just over an hour before our Recap & Briefing. I was preparing my recap for the day when the call came over the PA system that the Captain had seen some whales and that we should all come to the outside decks. Fortunately, I was nearly done with my recap, so headed out to the outside deck by the Observation Lounge to watch a wonderful display of a few humpback whales as they fluked and swam extremely close to the bow of the ship. Eventually we all came in and had a shortened Recap & Briefing and then on to a fabulous dinner, as dinners always are on the Prince Albert II.