Thursday, 28 November 2013

Anyone for shopping?

You might ask, why are we talking about shopping in Antarctica? Well today we visited a restored British base on a small island called Goudier Island, in Port Lockroy. There, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust manage a shop, British sub-post office and museum. It is for sure a unique experience to shop in Antarctica! The museum preserves a record of  how the hut was used in former times for scientific purposes. Port Lockroy is one of the most popular destinations for cruise ships in Antarctica and regular readers of our Fram blog will be familiar with the place.

The scenery around the base is outstandingly beautiful and the icing on the cake are the Gentoo Penguins breeding around the buildings. An ongoing study is looking at the effect of tourism on the breeding success of the penguins and has shown that there is no negative impact. That makes us feel very good!

After Port Lockroy we tried to sail through the amazing Lemaire Channel between Booth Island and the mainland. However, the ice prevented us from entering so we only had a look from a distance. 

This also had the knock-on effect of preventing a landing on Petermann Island on the other side of the channel. Instead we chose an icy location in the Neumayer Channel for Polarcirkel boat cruising. It is a very special experience to be in a small boat in Antarctica, literally at eye level with the sea ice, and with the icy mountains towering above you. In the pack ice close to the ship we were able to observe a Crabeater Seal resting on the ice. We could see many wounds around the neck of the animal but it is apparently a mystery how they are made.

Our cruising made for a great end to our Antarctica experience and as we sailed north and into the Drake Passage, our memories will force us to look backwards towards this incredible place.