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Published: February 21st 2019
3. D'Hainaut Island Mikkelsen Harbour
We woke to see that it has snowed over night, but the morning was beautiful with sun shining and the ocean as blue as blue can be! It was majestic. The Russian crew were sweeping the snow from the top decks and we saw snow falling past our cabin window.
It was announced that the temperature was a little warmer that the previous day – 1.5 degrees!!! It didn’t matter really as we were very ‘toasty’ in our warm clothes.
Mikkelson Harbour is a rocky islet which is located n the small bay on the southern side of Trinity Island in the Palmer Archipelago. The islet was snow covered with a colony of Gentoo penguins and many Weddell seals which was the 1st
time we had seen these seals. We sat for half an hour watching them wriggle their way along the snow with one of them coming out of the water to rest after ‘fishing’.
Our landing on the island was on a rocky beach. Immediately we saw many bones of whales and a broken wooden boat. There used to be a whaling
operation from a large boat out in the water where they used to cut up the whales on the ship and toss all unwanted parts of the whales over the side, hence the bones being washed up on the beach. This was continued until the Antarctic agreement to stop whaling.
The islet was discovered by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04. We wandered around and up and over the islet, walking down to look at the buildings used by the expedition. It was then back onto the ship for lunch.
4. Cierva Cove
Our next land stop was to a large Chinstrap penguin colony on Cierva Cove. As we approached the island we could see the pink-streaked hill slopes with tracks from the top of the hill, down to the beach. This was the typical sign of the presence of a penguin colony who have been eating krill.
We walked amongst the penguins, watching their family and relationship antics and watching them waddle and hop their way along the paths.
It was then back into the zodiacs for a cruise around the coastline. It was
here that we experienced the big pods of whales – minke whales, fin whales (which went in between 2 zodiacs) and multiple numbers of humpback whales.
Several people on 2 zodiacs wanted to go back to the ship so there was several ocean transfers happening so that people who wanted to stay on the zodiac cruise, could. I didn’t wasn’t to go back to the ship as there were so many whales. Tom was on the ‘short version’ zodiac cruise but I chose the 3 hour version. The zodiacs had to always work in pairs for safety reasons. A third zodiac joined us, driven by Emily, one of the English One Ocean team. Most of the people had put their cameras away as we had got so many fantastic shots of whales. I was standing up, looking around at all the whales, taking it all in. Then I noticed a whale heading towards Emily’s zodiac. It passed the zodiac very closely. The then came back and passed it again and on the third pass, it bumped the zodiac, tipping it to 45 degrees. There were only 4 passengers and Emily in the zodiac, all of whom hurridly
sat down. Poor Emily, she was stunned, in fact we all were. We reasoned that the whale bumped the zodiac by mistake. It was incredible to watch this massive animal, at least 3x the size of the zodiac, be under the boat. I still don’t think anyone on any of the zodiacs caught the incident on camera.
By this time, it had started to snow. We all agreed to drag ourselves away from the multiple performances of the whales as it was getting cold and we had been out for almost 3 hours.
Arriving back at the ship and out our cabin window was a whale performing for us. Could it get better than this? I opened our cabin window and poked half my body out, watching a filming the performance. What a day! Once I couldn’t feel my hands any more, I closed the window and just sat and thought through our last few hours experiences. How lucky were we.
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