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Published: January 31st 2015
Crossing the Antarctic Circle (66°33'S)
Marguerite Bay south of Adelaide Island.
Greetings from down south!
I've been to the Antarctic twice since I last blogged and both trips were amazing and both trips visited very different places. The first voyage headed as far south as ice conditions would allow us!
It was bright daylight! I was dressed in a lovely pink onesie and accompanied by Wonder Woman as we crossed the Antarctic Circle at 00:45. At 66°33’S, we were at the latitude on the planet that gets at least one day per year when the sun never sets and one when the sun never rises. Those days, of course, would be on the solstices. The exaggerated mid-summer light continued through all hours of the night as we delved deeper south and explored the sea ice of Marguerite Bay!
We almost got to the seventieth parallel, but an impenetrable barrier of ice prevented us from exploring further south. The ice was spectacular and bleak with a magnificent backdrop of giant mountains, and of course, there were the usual characters in the area, gentoos, adelies, crab-eaters and suchlike.
We have had some epic encounters with whales too! With humpbacks up to all sorts of antics only a few feet from
the Zodiac! It is truly magical to be in such close proximity to these majestic, social and playful marine mammals! These massive, forty ton behemoths are very gentle and curious creatures, and they deserve our utmost respect… Beautiful!
Just as we thought it could not get any better, a pod of killer whales (Orcinus Orca) showed up. This small pod of three individuals frolicked under the Zodiacs too and it was an amazing experience! Then we had Minke whales and leopard seals thrown into the mix!
One of the voyages was an all Japanese Charter which tested all of our language/communication skills to the max! It was a lot of fun and I learned a few handy Japanese words, e.g., humpback, penguin, boat, this way please, slippery rocks, rope, iceberg and seal to name a few! With a little imagination, using English prepositions, I could construct several humourous sentences. At least I thought they were funny!
One evening at the dinner table with seven Japanese guests and had a very interesting conversation with the lady to my right! The lady spoke as much English as I did Japanese, and after about ten minutes I figured out she
Barrientos Island, South Shetlands
was telling me something about a sheep. “Very much green eat, animal, white, not cat.” Clearly a sheep, right! Not a bad description! I have no idea what she was telling me about the aforementioned farm animal, but it was a lot of fun.
All was well on the Ocean Diamond, I've had three fantastic voyages so far this season, but I am now spending a few days in Ushuaia at a hotel. The hotel doesn't squawk or smell of guano, but it will be nice to spend a few days among the trees while I wait for the Sea Spirit to dock. I am jumping ship, then heading back down to Antarctica… It’s an amazing place. There are no guns down there. No money, no phones. Just raw nature and exquisite silence!
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