This will be my last blog from the Antarctic Peninsula, as after this day we just had the long way north across the Drake Passage to Ushuaia before disembarking and heading back to Buenos Aires.
Having travelled only a short distance north from the day before we had a morning excursion to the Argentine Islands, named by Charcot after the Republic in appreciation of their Government’s support for his expedition. The islands are home to both the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station and the British Wordie House.
Arriving in the Argentine Islands with a magnificent iceberg leaning precariously a little offshore.
The last two sites to visit before the long passage north to Ushuaia.
A cormorant (shag) takes off when we approach too close in the zodiac.
Just in case we get lost, a signpost acts as both a guidepost and a warning for this rocky outcrop.
A magnificent backdrop for Ukraine’s Vernadsky Station (previously belonging to the British).
A warm welcome to all and sundry it seems.
Plenty of penguins all around the station, this one soon ready to flee the nest.
A private yacht moored in a sheltered cove, and I wonder how it would be to sail yourself in these seas.
Cliffs of snow and three skuas chasing each other or heading out for the hunt.
The British Wordie House stands on an opposite bay and will be renovated next summer season,
as are the other British huts on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The view of the front of Wordie House all but obscured by this magnificent floating ice sculpture.
In amongst the islands were some spectacular icebergs.
Cruising further, we found a snowy ice terrace with 16 prone seals, a few of which deigned to raise their heads towards us.
Just for the colour – a small tunnel under the ice terrace shows the deepest blue against the turquoise waters.
A gentoo penguin swims by, eyeing us warily.
A glacier falling right down to the sea, and many calved bergs and ice blocks float nearby.
Beautiful colours and reflection of these two bergs against the dull grey of the late morning sky.
Back to our ship which appears toylike on the horizon, between the islands and a large berg.
Off again, on our afternoon excursion.
In the afternoon we landed at Petermann Island which lies just below the beautiful Lemaire Channel and where French explorer Charcot and his vessel the ‘Pourquoi Pas’ overwintered here in 1909. On the cove where we landed is an abandoned Argentinian refuge hut which was built in 1955. I so much enjoyed watching the antics of the colonies of both Adelie and Gentoo penguins.
Approaching our landing spot on Petermann Island
Penguins surround the abandoned Argentinian Refuge Hut, sporting their country’s flag.
The welcome party of two.
Looks like more arrivals catching their attention.
A trio of skuas arguing over some scraps.
An Adelie penguin strides by …
… and a Gentoo.
A mixed group of Gentoo and Adelie penguins high up on the rocks above the bay.
Parents and babies on their stone nests.
Hungry babies and they grow so fast.
A handsome Adelie penguin against the skyline.
My cousin Sarah remarked to me one day on the ship that she had come to believe there were two kinds of people in the world. “Oh yes,” I said, “tell me.” She responded, “Well, there are those who delight in anthropomorphism and there are those who don’t.” For those who are not familiar with that word – Wikipedia defines anthropomorphism as ‘the attribution of human traits, emotions or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.’ I realised that with penguins I often practised anthropomorphism, and Sarah was adamant that she didn’t and even found it mildly irritating in others. That made us laugh. Do you use anthropomorphism?
The proud parent and the suspicious bystander
“Would you two just shut the heck up.”
Going downhill, this Adelie finds it much easier to slide on its belly …
… and slips right by me, paddling with its back feet.
Then, hops back up on to its feet when no more gravity and carries on walking.
“Didn’t I do well,” it seems to be asking me. “Bet you couldn’t do that'”
Climbing high on the ridge above the hut you could look down into another sheltered bay, and what a beautiful sight.
A fellow passenger offered to take my photo right here, so why not.
A lone penguin makes its way to the sea across the ice turned pink from the action of sunlight on the algae.
Just wandering along, minding its own business.
Gentoo parent and chick.
Penguins make their nests using much sought after stones, carrying them carefully to their mate.
Sometimes, they try to steal the precious rocks from other nests and fights ensue.
A fine couple of penguins see us off the island. Might even be the same pair that had welcomed us an hour earlier.
Aren’t they just too cute?
Another lone penguin, watches us leave from his little possie on the rocks.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for the day, we then climbed onto the zodiacs for the last cruise through icebergs and found that we were surrounded by humpback whales putting on a show for us. Talk about ‘whale tales’ – their flukes are so magnificent.
Two swim so near our zodiac, they set us rocking.
They circle the bay as a pair …
… then, a little further off they dive, one after the other.
And yet another.
A little group of penguins pursued the whales, diving and surfacing at great speed.
Such fun to watch but so difficult to catch them on camera.
And then there were three.
Wow, just wow, as two dived almost simultaneously.
Another dives down to the depths, showing off the mottled white underside of its tail fluke.
Another humpback dives, his tail fluke about to flip up.
Another of the zodiacs drifting, passengers not knowing whether to photograph this interesting iceberg or watch the whales.
The came so close to the circling zodiacs, it was truly awesome.
This one dived right under our zodiac. Here its tail is about to flip up.
And down it goes, so close you can clearly see the barnacles along the fluke …
… and glides down into the water almost without a splash.
Another whale glides past and dives, offering a lovely diagonal view as it plunges,
A zoomed-in shot as it dives.
And soon disappears. Just a magnificent display of power and beauty.
Cruising back to the ship, there were so many ‘this is the last’ moments. The last deep blue indentations in an iceberg.
The last seals on an ice floe. Is that one clapping that we are leaving?
The last penguin atop an iceberg.
The last tiny details of sculptured ice.
The last view of a whale fluke and of our ship surrounded by ice and snow.
Our last returning to the ship, and climbing out of the zodiac.
The last view of the Antarctic Peninsula as we steam northwards across the Drake Passage.
Maybe the last wearing of those fabulous yellow jackets! The Kiwi trio – Joanna, Julia and Sarah.
So there you have it if you have been following my blogs (eight in all) about our Antarctica adventure with Quark Expeditions, this was the last. What a wonderful experience and I will treasure these memories for a lifetime.
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With very best regards to all my friends and followers,