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Day 13 - January 2, 2010 - Antarctic Sound: Brown Bluff, Paulet Island

By Michaela Mayer, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: Brown Bluff 63°32’S, 56°55’W; Paulet Island 63°35’S, 55°47’W
Weather: sunshine, blue sky

This morning when I awoke and opened the curtains of my stateroom, the light of the sun and its reflection on the sea and the ice blinded my eyes. Huge, spectacular, tabular icebergs were on both sides of the Prince Albert II.

When the Expedition Team jumped in the Zodiacs to prepare the landing, it was so light I had to wear my sunglasses – even though it was just 5am! Our landing side this morning was Brown Bluff with a 1.5km long cobble and ash beach rising increasingly steeply towards towering red-brown tuff 745m-high cliffs.

On the way along the beach from the landing site to the Adélie rockery there were small pockets of Gentoo penguins and of course this was our guests’ first landing in Antarctica. Gentoos penguins are my favourite penguin species in terms of voice. They have several calls, chiefly a loud crowing, repeated ah, aha, aha, aha, e uttered with head up. I could watch and listen to them for hours, which I indeed did.

Each group had plenty of time to enjoy watching the penguins, before being given the opportunity to go for a walk along the glacier to the side of the landing site. The majority of the guests took this great option and thoroughly enjoyed the walk.

Our lunch was interrupted by a call from Captain Peter from the Bridge: “Orca whales ahead of the ship”. Of course The Restaurant was emptied within seconds when everybody went on the outer decks to catch a sight on these black and white “Free Willy” whales. Four Orcas beside the ice sheets gave an unforgettable picture.

Hard to believe, but the afternoon continued with highlights. Indescribable blue sky, half a million Adélie penguins and shining ice sheets along the beach framed our landing on Paulet Island. Everybody had enough time to find a place to enjoy the wonderful wildlife.

Adélie penguins are medium-sized with characteristic angular head, tiny bill and conspicuous white eye-ring. We were able to see almost the whole breeding cycle with displaying, mating, eggs and chicks.

After the briefing and recap paging the Nordensköld Expedition and their heroes, I headed off to The Restaurant for a fantastic dinner. Finally I needed an early evening and went to bed, but not without a last view out of the window of the icebergs of the Antarctic Sound.

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