First landing in Antarctica

Paulet Island Travel Blog

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Ice berg alley (Antarctic Sound), pretty ice bergs
Sunrise 02:33, sunset 22:11

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.
Ice berg alley
The gentoo have patches of white on their head amd orange beaks, while the Adelie have black heads, blue rimmed eyes and a smaller patch of orange on their beaks.

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.
more icebergs. It's hard to appreciate the scale of these icebergs. The tabular icebergs can be really huge.
Summer is the short breeding season for penguins, there were eggs being hatched, and there were baby penguins!  Sometimes it was hard to see the babies because they were hidden in the area between their parent's feet and belly. The penguins were quite noisy. And they squabbled with each other constantly. They were not always good protectors of their eggs, because the skuas would come by and steal their eggs (very sad to watch). We stood mesmorized watching them steal rocks from other penguins' nest to fix their own, and doing other penguin things (I even got one on photo!) These penguins didn't have to hike very far to their nests, we would see later some who had to hike a mile, but I suppose that's nothing to them, now that March of the Penguins movie probably have told people a lot more about penguins.
a peak on the Antarctic continent sticks out of the clouds


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!
PhinsAndGills says:
I will, without a doubt, show this to my 2nd graders. They're just not sure Antarctica really exists! hee hee
Posted on: Apr 16, 2008
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Ice berg alley (Antarctic Sound), …
Ice berg alley (Antarctic Sound),…
Ice berg alley
Ice berg alley
more icebergs. It\\s hard to appre…
more icebergs. It's hard to appre…
a peak on the Antarctic continent …
a peak on the Antarctic continent…
Brown Bluff on the Antarctic conti…
Brown Bluff on the Antarctic cont…
On Brown Bluff shore, looking back…
On Brown Bluff shore, looking bac…
A gentoo penguin in its nest, hatc…
A gentoo penguin in its nest, hat…
(Adelie) Penguin colony on Brown B…
(Adelie) Penguin colony on Brown …
An action shot of a baby gentoo pe…
An action shot of a baby gentoo p…
On the shore of Brown Bluff, the p…
On the shore of Brown Bluff, the …
Paulet island in the distance with…
Paulet island in the distance wit…
Paulet Island was blocked by lots …
Paulet Island was blocked by lots…
more pretty blue icebergs on the w…
more pretty blue icebergs on the …
A view of how much ice we had to g…
A view of how much ice we had to …
a historic structure on Paulet isl…
a historic structure on Paulet is…
The penguin colony on Paulet. All …
The penguin colony on Paulet. All…
penguins, you can see the one in t…
penguins, you can see the one in …
Our ship was very close to shore. …
Our ship was very close to shore.…
a screen capture from the video of…
a screen capture from the video o…
another screen capture, the two pe…
another screen capture, the two p…
Now they are standing up and havin…
Now they are standing up and havi…
a screen capture of video showing …
a screen capture of video showing…
Paulet Island
photo by: portia