Dear friends,

We had a fairly rough passage up the west coast of Adelaide Island overnight and through the morning, so it was quite exciting to spend a little time up on the bridge and watch the waves breaking over the prow and often splashing right up over the windows. But when we came into sheltered waters again, ready for our visit to the Fish Islands, there was an eerie calm with grey skies, and occasional shafts of sunlight lighting the snow-covered mountains on Graham Land beyond.

Travelling northwards up the west coast of Adelaide Island with decent swells.  

On the bridge with a couple of other passengers and the crew beyond.

Some decent waves causing some rocking and rolling …

… oftentimes with the spray barrelling right up to the level of the bridge making for a nice blurred image. 

This traverse brought us back to the north of the Antarctic Circle, and we enjoyed an afternoon Zodiac tour in the Fish Islands, a group of small islands at the entrance to Holtedahl Bay off the west coast of Graham Land. They were discovered and named by the British Graham Land Expedition 1934-37, under the leadership of John Rymill, an Australian Polar explorer.

The Fish Islands are between Crystal Sound to the south and Grandidier Channel to the north, sheltered to the east of Renaud Island. The Fish Islands and the Minnows, small islets to the east, are evidently occupied by an estimated 4,000 breeding pairs of Adelie penguins. However, it was seals rather than penguins that we saw that afternoon and some beautiful snow petrels too.

Our daily progress and today’s position as shown on one of the maps outside the library. 

Calm seas again and a glowering grey sky with one of the Expedition team return from a recce before we could venture out. 

On the zodiacs again and a snow petrel glides towards us …

… then turns and veers off to our left.

A bunch of seals relaxing on an ice floe.

A little more alert as we approach.

Just out of the water …

… rivulets of water dripping from its fur.

On other days we have witnessed icebergs calving and glaciers shedding layers of ice. Today day we witnessed an iceberg just disintegrating before our eyes. Perhaps it was the vibration from the zodiac motor that precipitated this, or maybe it was just time, but it was rather impressive.

This triangular iceberg was already pockmarked and striated and wow, it began to disintegrate right before our eyes…

… sending a mass of crushed ice towards us and waking up a seal on a nearby floe.  

Not much left of the original iceberg and the mass of ice causing us to quickly backtrack into more open water.

Lovely colours and reflections as we cruised through the islands and ice floes.

A snow petrel.

Another angle and two more below.

Snow petrels following us, or maybe it was just the one, but since I haven’t posted many birds, here are four photos of them.

The stunning landscape all around us, and looking decidedly cold with that grey sky.

Another of the zodiacs cruising through the ice, the sun illuminating the snowy mountain beyond.

Beautiful reflections

Especially this one – love the colours and the shape within a shape.

Just another seal on an ice floe …

… dozing …

… and posing!

A close up of the base of one of the bergs, such interesting shapes and colours.

A swimmer casts a wary eye at us as it swims by.

Another two glide past us.  (Actually I think this might be my most favourite photo from the whole trip.) 

Those shapes and colours, so amazing.

More seals relaxing and not bothered at all by our presence.

Taking a look and notice that flipper with the five outstretched ‘fingers’.

The last seal photo – for today.

Later that evening, an announcement was made that the team had identified a huge piece of floating sea ice that was big enough and strong enough for us to land on. So on with the gear again, and back onto the zodiacs so we could have that experience too.

Waiting to pick us up. And look at that holey iceberg to the right.

Approaching the landing spot, and why the gathering here I wondered? It was a very nice touch that when we stepped on to the ice, some of the crew were right there to hand us a mug of hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys in it.

A mass of yellow-jacketed fellow adventurers out on the sea ice. 

Ok, there are two more seals behind me, but needed a photo of me on the sea ice and the seals are a bonus.

The seals and one zodiac group already heading back to the ship.

And if there is snow, for sure some will want to make a snow angel, and here is evidence of that.

Others, like fellow Kiwi Julia (on the left) and a friend made snowmen, albeit rather diminutive ones.

This huge expanse of floating sea ice stretched nearly to the ship, seen in the distance behind me.

Back to the ship after another fabulous day.

Just one more full day in Antarctica to go and then the two-day crossing of the Drake Passage back to Ushuaia. While today was very much about the seals wallowing about on the ice and some in the water, my blog tomorrow will be full of penguins and whales. It’ll be a good one, although choosing the penguin shots from the many I have will not be easy.

I hope you are not yet bored with the stories and photos of my Antarctic adventure, but as you can probably tell that I loved it, and thus want to recount these experiences for you.

Greetings to you all,