Day 6 |
Feb 03, 2010

Pleneau Bay, Fish Islands - Prospect Point

By Gennadi Milinevsky – Environment, Atmosphere Physicist

Co-ordinates: 65°15’S, 64°15’W; 66°01’S, 65°21’W

Weather: overcast and mild, low clouds, air temperature 3C (27F), wind to 5 knots, calm

The day started foggy with low clouds on anchorage near Vernadsky Base (Drum Rock). Low clouds covered the summits of mountains around our ship. Just after anchoring the ship south of Booth Island in Pleneau Bay, we saw two humpback whales sailing close to surface in the direction of the Lemaire Channel. It was a short whale-watching because the whales went further north and we returned to Pleneau Bay for a tour in the iceberg graveyard.

Sailing between icebergs that grounded in the bay was exiting and interesting entertainment for us due to the unexpected iceberg forms. At the end of Zodiac tour we had the occasion to see elephant seals seated at the rock beach of Pleneau Island and two of them taking a bath on a shallow bay near the island and watching us. A nice surprise for guests was "refuelling" with a glass of champagne from the "supply" Zodiac in the water. This toast was provided by Thomas to celebrate a successful tour.

During lunch we passed by the Vernadsky research station and I had the possibility to drop a small box with a long-focus lens for the Base Commander on the station that I bought for him in Ushuaia. The Captain reduced the speed of the ship, and two winterers came from the base by Zodiac and received this box on a rope from the galley deck.

During our staff meeting we shifted the schedule of lectures, briefing/recap, and dinner in order to organize a second Zodiac cruise today around Fish Islands. The day continued by sailing further south by the Penola Strait and via the Polar Circle to Detaille Island.

Soon after lunch we had an exciting lecture about Earth plate tectonics by Stefan, our geologist, who explained why Antarctica differs from other cold places on the planet. This lecture was followed by Kara’s about the Antarctic food web with an overview of all life in the Antarctic Peninsula.

In between the lectures we had a Briefing & Recap where our Expedition Leader Robin explained the planned activity for tomorrow and the Expedition Team gave lots of interesting information to our guests.

At 8pm we arrived to the Fish Islands where a second Zodiac tour started in an unusual time - after dinner. We saw big difference between the tour at Pleneau Bay, where water was clear from floating ice, and that place, where the surface of the ocean was covered by brash ice and bergy bits. We could hear the magnificent sounds of ice cracks releasing thousand-year pressure. Our Zodiacs sailed along with an ice cliff in the distance and suddenly after a big crack, huge pieces of glacier were discharged into the water producing a big wave.

On the island we could see remnants of British Base Q; only concrete pillars of basements were left. After our Zodiac tour was finished, we enjoy tasty and hot bouillon that is a “life saver” after the cold Antarctic cruise between icebergs and floating ice. With that we were heading in the direction of the Antarctic Circle and Detaille Island, Base W of British Antarctic Survey, and looking forward to seeing this interesting historical place suddenly abandoned by base personnel due to hard ice conditions.