Day 4 |
Feb 22, 2012

Brown Bluff, Antarctic Peninsula; Antarctic Sound

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Botanist

Co-ordinates: 63° 02`S, 57° 39`W
Weather: sunny
Air Temperature: -3°C

After Aitcho Island and a quiet night in the Bransfield Strait, another unbelievable day started down in the Antarctic: sunshine, blue sky and no wind. The Silver Explorer reached our first destination on the Antarctic mainland around 6.00 in the morning. The tall brown and dark gray cliffs of Brown Bluff were rising over our landing site. Unfortunately, and despite these excellent weather conditions, there was too much ice between the anchor position and the landing site, which prevented our guests from experiencing their first step on the seventh continent. Due to the sea current coming from the Weddell Sea, sea ice was pushed into the Antarctic Sound and it was this sea ice, which blocked the way to our landing site.

But as it was a blue clear sky, the sunrise over Brown Bluff was just spectacular. The icebergs had an orange-reddish tint with the incredible scenery of Antarctic mainland in the background.

After a short cruising in front of Brown Bluff, the Silver Explorer made its way into the more open waters of the sound. On the way to our next attraction, the tabular icebergs, a pod of Killer Whales came into sight right in front of the vessel. Not common for Killer Whales, they were swimming around the ship quite a long time and our guests were able to take some good pictures and beautiful memories from this encounter.

The conditions today were just marvelous for iceberg cruising. The Captain maneuvered the ship between the sea ice and icebergs so that our guests could enjoy these stunning monuments of the white continent.

Shortly afterwards we intended our second landing for today, this time at Kinnes Cove, also in the Antarctic Sound. In the meantime, the katabatic winds have picked up and gusts of up to 40 knots were blowing down the glacier from Joinville Island. So again this attempt of landing had to be canceled.

As the vessel was now making its way down on the west side of the peninsula, lectures filled up the program of the day. The first one was held by my colleague Robin Aiello, our marine biologist on board, talking about the most important food resource down here in the Southern Ocean: the krill. Later on in the early afternoon, I gave a presentation on the biogeography of the southern continents, focusing on the botanical history of the Antarctic.

At 17.00 in our daily Recap & Briefing, Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink gave an overview on the program for tomorrow and my colleagues Stefan, Juan, and Peter presented a short recap on Polar Circles, tabular icebergs, and cooking in the old days down here in the Antarctic.

This expedition day finished with Humpback Whales and Fin Whales as the Sliver Explorer sailed through the Bransfield Strait, a delightful dinner in The Restaurant, and the expectations of our guests looking ahead to our next destinations in this last wilderness.