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January 16th 2016
Published: January 19th 2016
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Back to Antarctica.

Beyond this flood a frozen continent

Lies dark and wilde, beat with perpetual storms

Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land

Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems

Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice...

MILTON, Paradise Lost.

It was the best of crossings it was the worst of crossings.

The Drake Passage is a rite of passage for most people visiting the Antarctic and it is usually a bumpy, stormy passage. We got tossed around on one of the crossings as a Beaufort Force 9 slammed the sides of the vessel – truly spectacular waves hammering over the bow. However, our southbound voyage was a tranquil, peaceful passage with the company of the majestic fin whales and the mighty albatross.

I love the sea. I love being followed by the great wanderer.

It’s great to be back down here.

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and most mountainous of the seven continents – it is also the least green. However, there are two species of grass, several moss species and a few hundred types of lichen. Often overlooked, I have been exploring these simple-yet-complex areas of vegetation. Antarctica is essentially completely white and covered in ice, but its frigid edges have snow-free areas and a surprising amount of greenery. Hardly a forest, but by Antarctic standards, that’s what it is – a forest of green in an emptiness of white. I crawled around these micro-forests, they are lush and they smell like spring!

The Gentoos dominated the show as usual. I didn’t notice the smell of the guano as much, not even the squawks and squabbles. I noticed the harmony between predator and prey. The south polar skuas and kelp gulls are forever trying to grab penguin chicks and penguin eggs – everyone has to eat. There is a gory side to watching penguins getting attacked and killed –but this is raw, untamed nature.

Interpreting the Antarctic emptiness is a challenge. This blog, with only a few words and a few pictures hardly does justice at all. It is a special place – one that words and pictures cannot describe…


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19th January 2016

Dietary intake:
David, do you have any idea of the staple diet of the crab eater seal?
25th January 2016

Well said
So few words and yet the message was received. Always love your blogs.

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