Day 12 |
Dec 06, 2011

 Elephant Island

By Michaela Mayer, Marine Biologist


Co-ordinates: 55° 13’ W, 61°17’ S
Weather: cloudy
Air Temperature: 0° C
Sea Temperature: 1,1° C
Pressure: 992 hPa
Wind: 31.5 km/h

We started our trip early to historical Elephant Island. Located at the archipelago’s northeastern end, Elephant Island is known as the desolate place where 22 members of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition were stranded. It took us quite a while to bring all Zodiacs into the water due to unpredictable gusts and larger ice growlers that threatened the side gate.

I started my cruise towards the glacier and the rocks to look at the nesting cape petrels. I drove my Zodiac through the floating ice in the bay. A hole in a mid-sized iceberg opened a real polar view to our expedition cruise ship Silver Explorer. Onwards I went towards the glacier: always an amazing view! I even observed the calving of a small piece of ice.

Next on my schedule was getting closer to the memorial statue of Luis Pardo, the Chilean captain who rescued the stranded men of Shackleton’s team after months on shore. I managed to get some great close-up pictures with the statue and the glacier in the background.

Now my attention turned towards the many Chinstrap penguins, which are breeding on the surrounding rocky islands. It is always fun to watch these little guys entering and leaving the ocean. While I was driving the Zodiac around these rocks, I suddenly spotted two Weddell seals, resting on the rocks. The time passed so quickly, we had to return to the ship. I really enjoyed this Zodiac cruise. The Zodiacs allow us to get so close to the wildlife and have an intense experience.

Lunch on board was excellent and right after, our Expedition Leader announced whale sightings! I went with the team and many guests to the upper deck. But despite the Captain’s efforts to follow the whales slowly, we did not get better views of them. Still, many guests proudly showed off their pictures of three humpback whales.

The day ended with a Recap & Briefing and now we are heading off to the Antarctic Sound and Brown Bluff, tomorrow’s landing point.