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Published: March 22nd 2014
Farewell to Antarctica
You have to allow time for Antarctica to speak to you! It really is a special place. This trip to the Antarctic was the last of the season, winter is setting in fast, the sea is beginning to refreeze again, the days are shortening and the cold is gripping the continent. I will continue to reflect on these Antarctic voyages for quite some time, they have been more mind-blowing than I could have imagined. The sheer scale of things, the awe-inspiring beauty and the immensity of it all is staggering. I am blessed to have spent more time down here than I ever would have thought, and just to top things off, this last trip had some spectacular highlights! The Iceberg Graveyard
Looking down onto the grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay from a small hill on Booth Island was spectacular! Mother Nature’s natural ice skyscrapers lined the shallow bay with a dazzling display of white, green and blue as huge towers and spires rose upwards to the sky. Smaller bergy bits dotted the seascape in between the big ones. Many had resident seals on them basking in the last of the summer sun… We were
spoiled with the weather – absolutely perfect! From the Whale’s Perspective
“I think I’ll just blow my smelly krill-breath and snot all over you – yeah and I think I’ll just nudge your boat for a couple of minutes. Hmmm, I think I’ll just poke my rostrum out of the water and flash my baleen plates at you... And yeah, I think I’ll just slap my pectoral fins at you and splash you with ice cold water... I’ll spy-hop – and maybe show you my tail… Then I’m gonna nudge your boat again. Hey guys, do you want to see my white underbelly and my cool white throat grooves because I’m going to swim upside down under your boat… Then I’m going to show you my barnacled grin and look you in the eye. I think I’ll blow some bubbles under your boat too and make your boat dance on the water…. Listen up everyone coz I’m going to sing to you now.”
We had whale-song, grunts and squeaks as the whale frolicked and played right by us for about two hours! It put on quite the show and it was very interested in us. I am
honoured to have spent this time with one of the Earth’s most amazing creatures!
Just to add to the spectacular whales of this trip, we had a breaching minke whale which is ultra-unusual, and a pod of killer whales. The Amazing Penguins at Neko
The light was incredible, the scene was stunning, and the sand beach at Neko Harbour was alive with squawks and squabbles from the gentoo colony! The afternoon sun sat low in the sky and the glaciers glistened and twinkled as the penguins bathed in the warmth.I really enjoy Neko… The penguins there have attitude and provide endless entertainment. And there’s a sand beach! Just sit on the sand and observe. Brown Bluff – Farewell to Antarctica
Our last stop on the continent was an impressive, imposing, rust-coloured rocky outcrop on the northern tip of the peninsula called Brown Bluff. We climbed up a glacier and looked down onto another mighty glacier as it emptied into the sea, and in the near distance was a seemingly endless carpet of sea ice drifting in the bay. The temperature was minus 9°C, and it was windy and snowing, a sure sign of the changing
season. As we cruised out of Antarctic Sound we neared a giant tabular iceberg that had grounded out. This mighty chuck of ice about a half mile long, a quarter mile wide and 800 feet deep was most likely a casualty of the Larsen B ice-shelf. It will take it a decade or so to disintegrate… This was our last view of Antarctica – it was quite the moment… We enjoyed the silence and the pristine whiteness of the coldest, windiest and most isolated part of our planet…
Antarctica is a lovely place, a beautiful place - a peaceful, untouched wilderness - remote and tough to reach. Its vastness and emptiness is beyond words, it captures the imagination – it’s absolutely breathtaking!
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