Day 12 |
Feb 20, 2009

Brown Bluff And Paulet Island

By Andrew Marshall

Air Temperature: 0?C

Sea Temperature: -2?C

Pressure: 987 hPa

Wind: Calm

Noon Position Co-ordinates: 63? 32' 5” S, 56? 17' 4” W

The ship was put at ease this morning, with an absolute calm sea and a streaming sunrise over an ice horizon to wake up to. The continental breakfast served in the Panorama Lounge allowed for forays onto the outside decks for the first photos of the day. The first of many, for in the hours to come the capacity of even the highest gigabyte memory cards would be tested.

Concentration was high on the Bridge as the Captain and the Navigating Officers manoeuvred the vessel with expert precision through the myriad of icebergs that lay between ourselves and Brown Bluff. Cape Petrels continued to dance and weave in flight, seeming to enjoy the turbulence the vessel creates underway. A successful transit was made, and we were able to begin the landing according to schedule. This continental landing was spectacular in every sense. The fine weather allowed the grandeur of these cliffs to be exhibited in al its glory.

At the landing site, we were welcomed by two Kelp Gull chicks who remained there for the entire duration. We were able to observe both Adelie Penguins and Gentoo Penguins, as well as Fur Seals and Cape Petrels bathing in the calm waters of the shore. We all highly enjoyed the Zodiac cruise on the way back to the ship, where we encountered sculptured icebergs, filled with contour and patterns you have to experience to fully appreciate, as each is as uniquely beautiful and wondrous as the next. The Captain had spied a Leopard Seal on an ice floe, and extra time was allowed for us to cruise over and encounter this ferocious predator up close and personal.

We were all in a state of sheer awe as we cruised through the Antarctic Sound on our way to the afternoon landing site. Again, the icebergs themselves never failed to impress. Several times, excitement levels peaked as we encountered seals and several Minke Whales sounding. Lunch was served both in The Restaurant and out on the open deck, providing an unparalleled panorama, some even finding time for a quick dip in the whirlpools.

Despite the heavy ice, we gained a position off Paulet Island where we could begin the Zodiac operations. Most of the penguins had left for the season, but there were still a few present, and the nesting Cormorants and the swag of Antarctic Fur Seals hauled out on the rocky shore were superb. It was neat to watch the Cormorants in flight and the many Fur Seals playing and rolling around in the shallows. Once again we were treated to a Zodiac cruise on the way back to the Prince Albert II, during which we encountered both a Weddell Seal and several Crabeater Seals hauled out on an ice floe.

Now, back on board, we took an alternative route heading west through Fridtjof Sound. The view was so overwhelming our Expedition Leader Iggy had to close the blinds during the Briefing for tomorrow, just to have any chance of competing for our attention. The outstanding imagery continued uninterrupted into and well after sunset as the light just kept getting better and better for the many photographers who were now in serious danger of developing Repetitive Strain Injury by way of “Photographer's Finger”.