Weather: Sunny all day with no wind
Air Temperature: 38.7˚F
Sea Temperature: 2 ˚C
This morning started with my usual coffee and a light breakfast in the Observation Lounge, while looking for wildlife. There were some of the usual suspects around, Southern Fulmars and Cape Petrels, but no whales. Where could they be? This is a great area, and last trip they were thick in here! I kept my vigil until we were almost to Cuverville, but then headed down to my stateroom to get ready for the morning’s landing.
I was barely into the stateroom when Robin West made an announcement, “Humpback Whale on port side of the ship!” It figures. Got a quick look out of my window, and continued to prepare for the morning’s activities.
Soon we were in the “scout boat” and headed for shore. It didn’t take long to get ready, and the hikers were not far behind, anxious to explore Cuverville from a little higher vantage point! Marylou, Uli and Luke led the convoy up and down the hill above the landing site, where everyone had a beautiful and commanding view of the spectacular scenery around this part of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Christian and I headed to the penguin colonies at either end of the island to see if any chicks had hatched yet. It was a very late nesting season here because of the heavy snowfall in this area. There were a number of newly hatched chicks, two to four days old, but many of the birds were still incubating eggs, which was very late!
We all were completely enjoying the morning and the sun, but it was soon time to head back to the ship and start cruising toward Port Lockroy. As soon as all guests and Zodiacs were back on board, the Captain took us through the Errera Channel, into Andvord Bay and across the Gerlache Strait, absolutely stunning!
Just when we were getting close to the Nuemayer Channel, I spotted some Orca near shore, and hurried to the Bridge to tell Robin. As I entered through the door, he was just calling the staff to say that he had just seen a large fin out at eleven o’clock from the ship. My confirmation that there was indeed Orca out there was all he needed, and proceeded to make the ship-wide announcement, “ Ladies and gentlemen, we have Orca at eleven o’clock from the ship, that’s Orca at eleven o’clock”. The decks were soon full with guests and staff armed with cameras, waiting for a glimpse of these magnificent animals. We spent about forty-five minutes watching these amazing creatures, and then it was time to continue our cruise to Port Lockroy.
Just about 3:30, we arrived and anchored, launching the Zodiacs almost immediately. I was one of the drivers, and took the shore party to Jougla Point to prepare for the landing. While I did that, Robin Aiello drove the other shore party to Goudier Island, and the Base A historic site. Soon we had half of the guests on Goudier shopping at the gift shop and hearing about the history of this small island, and the other half at Jougla point, seeing newborn Gentoo penguin chicks and some amazing whale bones.
At five thirty we did a quick switch with the two groups, and by seven o’clock we had everyone back on board, plus some guests from the station. Three of the women that staff the base came out for dinner and a quick shower!
As soon as dinner was over, the women departed back to the base, and the Captain took us on an “after dinner “ cruise through another narrow and incredibly scenic channel. We had great light, no wind and incredibly clear skies! What a way to end a perfect day!