Thursday, 30 January 2014

A beautiful day... it don’t get much better than this!!!

This morning we had our second Continental landing and our second day with a glorious weather. Blue skies and a Weddell Seal welcomed us at the sandy beach of Neko Harbour, where hundreds of Gentoo Penguins were going in and out of the water, sunbathing, or rushing up and down the steep hills that separate their colony from the sea.
Now that it is later in the season the penguin highways are deep channels in the snow slope, in some places as deep as the penguins themselves.

Those lucky enough to be kayaking or cruising enjoyed close encounters with a Humpback Whale, while the rest of us looked at it from a distance. The amazing icescape of the surrounding glacier tumbling into the sea captivated many of us whilst the penguins carried on regardless.
During lunch we crossed Gerlache Strait into the northern entrance of the Neumayer Channel, which is extremely scenic with Winke Island to one side and the Anvers Island to the other. The Captain slowed the ship to watch more Humpback Whales before reaching Port Lockroy in the early afternoon.

Port Lockroy, historic Site and Monument Nr. 61, is managed by the Antarctic Heritage Trust as a living museum and is manned by a team of 4 who welcomed us with opened arms. This season a BBC film team is also onsite filming a documentary entitled “Penguin Post Office”. Our arrival on the base was filmed. 
The museum captures life on the station in the 1950’s. The trust runs a small shop and post office to support the Antarctic Heritage Projects, including the conservation of other historic bases that we have seen during this incredible journey.
 Penguins and chicks were suffering from the heat that we highly appreciated. We heard the poor things pant and saw them spread out on the ground trying to loose some heat.
The chicks here seemed very clean and healthy. We witnessed some very touching interactions between adults and chicks.

The surrounding mountains were the playground for our snow shoe enthusiasts who started and finished their trek from Damoy Point, the same place where the camp for the night was set up later. We all enjoyed an incredible evening with stunning colours as the sun dipped very low in the sky.