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Antarctica – a place of peace, science and ice!

December 10 to 22

Force 7 winds and 5 metre swells

 

 

It is hard to put in to words the wonder that is Antarctica. There is ice. There is wildlife. There is crystal clear water. And there is snow and icy winds.

And crossing the Drake Passage there are raging seas of 5 to 6 metres and winds at Force 7 and 8. But it is all worth it when we get to the Seventh Continent– it is more than we expected…much more.

 

 

 

Partadise Harbour

 

 

For six days we take two zodiac trips from the MS Expedition. Sometimes we land. Sometimes we just cruise the ice taking in the majesty of the ice and the wildlife that call it home. The colours are amazing – the stark white of the snow, the blue of the icebergs and glaciers, the blackness of the water that conjure up reflections as pure as the landscape.

 

 

 

 

Gentoo Penguin at Port Lockroy

 

 

It is the wildlife that captures our hearts – the industrious penguins, the enormous seals, the playful whales and the birds.  They are so well adapted to their environment though.  The little penguins and their rookeries are fascinating in their endeavours to build a nest of rocks, breed, clean themselves and hunt for food.  The way they interact with each other is fascinating to watch.   They breed in prolific numbers, and they have to ensure the survival of their species.  Gentoo, Chinstrap and the ice living Adelies are the main types we see but there are many more in other places.

 

 

 

 

 

A crab eater seal at Paradise Harbour

 

 

Seals, the swimmers that can achieve unbelievable depths in their search for food – we see them resting on the ice flows, Wedell, Crab Eater, Elephant and the awesome Leopard seal that can rake the flanks of other much smaller seals and consume them if they are too slow.  The Elephant seals look so big and cumbersome on land – their girths spilling over the rocks.

 

 

 

Hmpback at play

 

 

We are fortunate to see Humpback and Minke. Others on our expedition were lucky enough to see Orca whale, but just watching a young humpback playing in the ice close to our ship was awesome.

 

 

 

90 % of the iceberg is below the water

 

 

Antarctica is about the ice too, and there is plenty of that.  Massive glaciers crawling down to the sea, manufactured by nature over thousands of years only to spill into the Southern ocean and drift off to melt into nothing is they strike the warmer waters of the North.  The brilliant stark whiteness is blinding – literally when the sun peaks through.  The pure blue of some ice is an optical illusion created by the lack of the colour spectrum.  Snow, and plenty of it, falls at any time. Black volcanic spills are uncovered as ‘summer’ melts some of the whiteness just intensifies the starkness.

 

 

The Polar Plunge

 

 

 

Brian was crazy enough to take the polar plunge in waters that were minus one degree! Shirley was way too smart for that caper.

 

The constant daylight is hard to get used to but is a part of this unique environment.

 

 

 

 

 

We marvel at the sea birds that live out in the open ocean – the mighty albatross that floats along effortlessly riding the winds.  They have been tracked travelling up to 8,000 kilometres – almost unimaginable. Their number dwindling due to man’s carelessness fishing with baited long lines that float for tens of kilometres  – looking like easy prey for a hungry albatross only to be hooked and dragged down to a watery death.   They don’t breed in huge numbers and are heading for extinction.  How can we be so careless, chasing cost efficiencies fishing for our food at the expense of one of nature’s true wonders?

The MS Expedition is dwarfed by the ice

 

 

Our ship is not just a means of conveyance, lectures on board by specialists in geology, bird life, whales, seals, Antarctica in general and the history of human exploration, their survival and great determination and of course the tragedies of those that lost their lives to the elements.

 

 

 

 

 

Did we love Antarctica – you bet we did!  It brings into perspective that while human beings think they rule they world, the only true king is nature itself and we are at its mercy.

11 Responses to “Antarctica – a place of peace, science and ice!”

  1. Love these photos, Brian and Shirl but won’t tell you what Russ’s response was to the sight of you swimming!! Russ still thinks it’s too cold to swim at Rosebud.

  2. Great to read your experiences in Antarctica in particular. We are going on the MS Expedition in the middle of Feb. Although I have a pair of speedos, I will not be going in the water voluntarily, unless of course the ship has an Italian captain. Any suggestions as to what we should not miss in Ushuaia and surrounds.
    Great restaurant at Iguazu falls on Agentinian side – reasonable price -can’t remember the name but biggest one there. Enjoy
    Warren ret.14029

  3. Ashvin Mistry says:

    We can’t wait for our own trip…..its been great hearing how much you enjoyed your trip to Antarctica. Reading the blog and seeing you great photos only gets us more excited.

  4. Colleen says:

    Enjoying readin all your adventures, very envious, wish I was there. happy New Year. Colleen

  5. Greetings Brian and Shirley from the library staff at the Police Academy. Love the photos of Antarctica especially the one of the sunset! It’s nice to be able escape to such a beautiful destination. We’ve been listening to your phone updates on the radio and wishing we were there.

  6. Michele Foster says:

    Hi Brian & Shirley,
    A belated Merry Christams & a safe and wonderful 2012. I thought I had lost your card with the website, but have since found it. Awesome adventure so far, keep safe…. Regards Brian & Michele Foster xx

  7. Steve & Gayle says:

    You two really jumped off the deep end this time! Antarctica makes Patagonia look like a summer vacation. I hope you’re back on two wheels again and warming up!
    Steve

  8. Leanne Bradley says:

    Hi Guys – you make Antarctica sound amazing. oh yeh, I was there & it was wasn’t it. Love the pics – I’ve just spent days sorting thru my 3000 plus! I’ll let you know if I ever put the slide show online.
    Hope you had a great Christmas & new year.
    I look forward to following the rest of your journey.
    LEANNE

  9. Tassie Gav says:

    Happy New Year Brian and Shirl,

    The stories and images are amazing, Tony Abbott has nothing on you Rixy. your chin looked a bit icy though….

    Stay safe

    Gav

  10. Wendy Lockhart says:

    What an amazing experience it must have been – the pics are sensational. Brian doing a “Tony Abbott” in the budgie smugglers was a highlight! What wonderful memories you’ll have. Happy New Year – love from Wendy

  11. Douglas Agnew says:

    Truely fantastic, i have been waiting to see what you found in Antactica. What a brilliant experience. I enjoy the opportunity to follow your amazing journey. Love to you both. Doug Agnew.

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