First landing in Antarctica
Paulet Island Travel Blog› entry 7 of 16 › view all entries
December 11th, 2000 – by: portia
We got to set foot for the first time on land in Antarctic today.
We went into Antarctic Sound (aka iceberg alley) this morning. This was the first time we saw a lot of icebergs. Some were a real pretty blue color, and others were tabular (flat on top). We could also see penguins standing on some icebergs.
Our first stop today was Brown Bluff, actually on the Antarctic continent! It was located at the tip of the peninsula (the long tail of the continent if you think it looks like a stingray). The Brown Bluff site has a long beach backed by a rust colored cliff 2225 ft above see level from where it got its name. This is a volcanic structure with an ice cap. The errosion from the cliff to the beach is home to many Adelie and gentoo penguins.
We landed using the zodiacs, the water was calm. All of us wearing red parkas, and the millions (it seemed) of penguins were just doing their business, not minding us at all. It was just incredibly fun to watch the penguins, after you get over the initial shock of the smell of guano. They were funny little characters, the way they walked, the way they shot OUT of the water onto land, the way they hestitated in a line at the edge of the water before going in. They looked like little dolphins when they were in the water, sleek and graceful. It's hard to think of them as birds when they do that.
Next stop was Paulet Island. We could see the island from quite far away, however, there were a lot of pack ice, small icebergs, floating ice in the water. So the ship, using its radar or sonar, found a clear pathway to get to the island. 100 years ago, it would have been real hard for the explorers to find such a path.
On Paulet there was a run-down structure built from rocks. This was where captain Larsen's unfortunate expedition had to spend some time in 1903. There was not much of the structure left and penguins and skuas have taken over and made nests in it. There were about 200000 Adelie penguins here on Paulet Island, as well as some blue shags. The lucky penguins got to be closer to shore, while most had to hike a long distance up the hill to their nests. When looking at the brown hill, we realized that all those little black specks were penguins! It just amazed us that they could hop and slide and wabble their way up so high and so far.
Near shore, I saw an interesting penguin love triangle in action when one of the penguins tried to be cozy with another penguin who obviously had a mate already, and that mate was not impressed with the intruder, and they had a loud fight. Nobody was killed, but it was very exciting. I had it on video tape, with all the sound effects captured!
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!