Day 3 - December 10, 2010 - South Shetland Islands, Halfmoon Island

By Rich Kirchner, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 60’36S
Weather: Overcast, Cool and Low winds
Air Temperature: 28F
Sea Temperature: 32F

This morning, as I drank a cup of coffee in the Observation Lounge, my attention was quickly drawn to the port side of the ship and the large groups of birds that were flying along with us as we made our final push to the Antarctic Peninsula area. The previous day I and several other naturalists on board had been showing the guests the numerous sea birds that were following the ship. We had seen several species of albatross, along with several different petrels and prions. There were however, two new players in the game this morning. Along with the ever present Cape petrels, I saw a small number of Antarctic petrels and some Southern fulmars, these are more Antarctic birds, so I knew the ship was getting close to our first destination!

Just around the time that the Expedition Leader was giving a morning briefing about our bonus landing that we would be doing that afternoon, the first icebergs were spotted in the distance, we were now getting very close! The bonus was that we had made such good time crossing the Drake Passage that we could squeeze in a short early landing that afternoon on Halfmoon Island.

The rest of the morning I was busy, along with the rest of the staff, doing the “Bio-security” check on clothing and gear. There was another staff meeting, and after lunch I got changed into my outdoor gear and got ready to head ashore!

I was soon helping to land the Zodiacs, and getting guests onto the island for a short afternoon interpretive walk through snow, and amongst the Chinstrap penguins that call Halfmoon Island home. Even though we had limited time on shore, there was plenty to see and even more to talk about now that we were finally in Antarctica! Everyone seemed very excited! Time flew by, and I led my group back to the landing site, onto the Zodiacs, and back to the ship.

Shortly after getting back aboard I gave part of the evening recap, talking about some of the new birds we had seen today. Conrad, the Expedition Leader, gave a short briefing about tomorrow’s activities, and got the level of excitement elevated even more! Then it was off to dinner and a good night’s rest; morning would come soon and we had a long day planned, full of lots of activities!