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Published: February 2nd 2014
Hello from the bottom of the world!
This trip was my third voyage to the icy realms of Antarctica and it was yet another amazing trip… I fail to see how anyone could ever be disappointed with a trip down here… It’s an amazing place! Even the adventure of just getting to Antarctica is incredible. Crossing the dreaded Drake Passage, one of the world’s most turbulent and stormiest stretches of water, and being followed by some of the great albatrosses is exhilarating. The moody skies, the howling winds and the swirling seas are just part of getting here. It’s part of the journey… And so is getting chased by Argentinians…
It all started when we arrived at the Argentinian base of Almirante Brown. The plan was to climb to the top of a small peak and enjoy the panoramic view of Paradise Harbour from the summit. A magnificent vista of mountains and ice… However, the Argentinian Coast Guard told us not to go to land anywhere near to their base… We decided it was probably wise not to upset them, so instead, we cruised in the area by Zodiac and watched seals and penguins frolic amongst
the icebergs. The Argentinians watched us suspiciously during our excursion. We left Paradise Harbour and headed to Port Lockroy, a British Antarctic base, when we arrived the Argentines were already there, anchored in the middle of the icy bay. We thought it was funny and we just carried on with our plans. The next day we headed to the Lamaire Channel, Pleneau Island and Palmer Station, and it seemed that the Argentines had the same agenda. However, the following morning when we arrived at Cierva Cove and the Primavera Argentinian Base, they called our ship’s bridge on the VHF radio and told us not to go to shore and to stay away from the area… As I was the most competent Spanish speaker on the ship, I was the ‘official’ translator between the irate Argentines and the bridge. I actually had quite a laugh with them over the radio and managed to persuade them that we were doing nothing wrong and had every right to be doing what we were doing… They were quite annoyed with us, but they accepted the fact that they cannot enforce anything in the Antarctic as it is not theirs…
Our captain was not
amused with the situation, but I thought it was quite funny, as did most of us!
When we weren’t being chased by Argentines we looked for wildlife and we happened to stumble upon an emperor penguin! The emperors are usually found in some of the more remote regions of this already remote continent, however, we were lucky enough to spot a lone emperor on Pleneau Island. It was molting and looked a little sorry for itself, but nevertheless it was an amazing bird to see. The chances of seeing this species in the peninsula region are slim! For most of us it was a first, even for some of the more hardened staff who have worked a dozen or more seasons! It was certainly a surprise when it was spotted, and a very welcome surprise at that!
We had some really good whale sightings on this trip too. We did not see the usual fin whales but had humpbacks and orcas right next to the ship. There was a lot of commotion on the back deck of the vessel and a lot of people rushed down. There were three humpbacks within ten metres of the ship, blowing their
Elephant Seal Wallow
Hannah Point, Livingston Island, South Shetlands
breaths onto us. After a minute they dove and they disappeared. Very shortly afterwards we watched a pod of five orcas feeding on a carcass of some sort. There were a lot of seabirds in the area too, feeding on the vast amounts of floating blubber. It was quite the spectacle!
My adventures down here will continue so stay tuned!
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