Voyage Journal 7103 Day 13


Day 13 - February 6, 2011 - Brown Bluff, Antarctic Sound

By By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 63º31’17”, W 056º52’57”
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: -1ºC
Sea Temperature: 0ºC
Pressure: 976 hPa
Wind: 35 knots

In order to take full advantage of the calm early morning conditions, today we had a rather early start. At 5 am I was already ashore, yes, that early, and it was beautiful. A day of typical Antarctic weather, with a bit of wind and plenty snow.

As the morning progressed, the wind picked up and by the time we finished with our operations, a blizzard was blowing, preventing us from doing anything else in that area. It was a good idea to start so early.

But back to the landing. At 5:30 am we disembarked half of our guests at Brown Bluff, which is a volcano located on the Tabarin Peninsula, right on the Antarctic continent. The adjacent area is home to thousands of nesting Adelie penguins. At this particular time of the year most of the chicks are about to fledge and they were walking about proudly, wearing the funniest “hair styles” with the remainder of their brown baby down in Mohawks, mullets, sideburns and helmet shapes.

The Adelies marched up and down the beach in huge groups, a sight to behold. We offered guided walks to the rookery and everybody had a chance to see Adelie and Gentoo penguins, Antarctic Fur seals and Leopard seals, Snow petrels (Ken our ornithologist was very excited), Cape petrels and many other bird species.

In anticipation of a guided walk onto a glacier I had flagged a route, but as the weather deteriorated that plan had to be cancelled due to safety reasons. I retrieved the flags and we sailed north to enjoy the sights of some massive and spectacular tabular icebergs. Captain Oleksander Golubyev in an impressive display of seamanship -and with surgical precision- drove the ship around these white giants while everybody was in awe.

At 14:30 the Expedition Team hosted a Recap & Briefing and a bit later -as we were staring at some icebergs- 3 Humpback whales showed up and put a performance worthy of an Oscar. They would swim under the ship from side to side and spy hop, then dive again to resurface meters away from us, allowing us incredible views of these magnificent animals through the surface of the water. From this elevated position we could see them very clearly while they were swimming right alongside and only a few meters away from the Prince Albert II.

And then, right at dinner time, the Captain found a big iceberg with several hundred chinstrap penguins standing on it. It was so much fun to see them trying to climb on to it. They would jump up, hit the ice, precariously try to climb up and almost invariably slide back down into the water. Hilarious indeed. Once again, very skillfully, our Captain brought us near the iceberg so that our guests could enjoy this great wildlife display from their very tables in the restaurant. Style!

What a day, what a day...