Monday, December 31, 2007: Day 7
Antarctica - 9:02 am EST
Posted by Geoff Green, Expedition Leader
Good morning and happy last day of 2007!
Last night was amazing. We arrived to Antarctica with a bang!
At first Elephant Island emerged from the fog right in front of us.
Suddenly there were icebergs all around, penguins in the water, and the glaciers and cliffs of Elephant Island looming ahead. We slowly made our way towards Point Wild. The captain did an incredible job bringing us into the sheltered anchorage behind a few icebergs so close that you could see the beach where Shackleton’s men survived for four months waiting for rescue in 1916. Incredibly, and against all odds, Shackleton returned on the Chilean tug Yelcho on August 30th, 1916 and rescued all of his men, thus ending one of the greatest stories of survival, courage, determination and leadership in the annals of polar exploration.
It was windy, foggy and wet, but the spirit of adventure was on our side and we decided to put the Zodiacs in the water and go for a Zodiac cruise around Point Wild!! After two days on the Drake, it was nice to get off the ship, but the best part was getting in close to see Point Wild, smell the Chinstrap penguins, see icebergs up close, push through ice with our Zodiacs, and hear the sounds of glaciers calving, penguins calling and so much more. The sensory overload was overwhelming for most. You could see in the eyes of our young explorers that they now realized they were in a totally new environment, and that we had truly arrived...
Following our first expedition excursion, our hungry team descended on the dining room for some hamburgers and french fries! But the night was not over! After dinner as we sailed around Cape Valentine on the eastern end of Elephant Island the sun emerged from the clouds lighting up all the tabular icebergs around, as well as the mountains of Clarence, Cornwallis and Elephant Islands. Then as good karma would have it, a pod five humpback whales were spotted in the distance!! We proceeded slowly towards the whales and for the next hour or more we were welcomed to the Antarctic by whales. They swam around the ship and under the ship, as our students and staff ran back and forth following their every move! You could feel the awe and wonder. The whales were very relaxed and seemed to be as curious about us as we where about them. They were tail slapping, fluking, putting the massive flippers in into the air, and at times making noises as they exhaled that reverberated in your bones. There really are no words to describe a moment like this. For these students, I can only imagine what they were thinking and feeling as they shared space with these great whales for the first time in their lives.
Our incredible day concluded with a Re-Cap and Briefing in the Lounge to celebrate and talk about the experiences of the day. The entire group was still riding a high. As we began discussing all the things that at happened in just the last several hours, the students spontaneously began sharing their feelings and impressions. It was powerful, magical and even poetic at times. To hear what these youth were saying and to see the looks in the eyes, and smiles on their faces was a moment I will not soon forget.
Some of our staff explained aspects of our day such as the Humpback whales, the geology, and the history of the area. During the re-cap Fritz realized that it was exactly 50 years ago this week that he first arrived to the Antarctic, and once again we had an emotional moment on our hands. In fact, tomorrow we hope to see the mountain to "Koerner Rock" that is named after Fritz on the Antarctic continent!
To conclude our day, Ian pulled out his guitar and played two songs that he has written about our trip in the last few days. More awe and wonder and magic filled the room... Thank you Antarctica...
This morning we have arrived to the Antarctic Sound and a gallery of tabular icebergs in every direction. After breakfast, everyone has been out on deck as we’ve been navigating through the ice on our way to Brown Bluff where we hope to make a landing later this morning on the continent! All is well.
In the expedition spirit,
Expedition Leader & Executive Director,
Students on Ice
Antarctica - 11:50 am EST
Posted from SOI World HQ
The participants have had an excellent morning sailing through tabular icebergs en route to Brown Bluff. Once there, the group had a memorable landing amongst both Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins. The students were thrilled to see so many Penguin chicks.
This afternoon we will attempt a landing in Hope Bay at the Argentine Esperanza Base.
Our thoughts will be with Fritz as he contemplates 50 years of service working for the Antarctic.
Posted by Sarin Remedios, student
Theme Song of the Day: The Beginning After the End - Stars
Today is the last day of 2007, and believe me, it will be one I will always remember. Our day included two landings on the Antarctic Continent: Brown’s Bluff and Esperanza Bay.
In the morning we made our way through “iceberg alley” making our way towards the peninsula.
Surrounded by mist, we ploughed our way through the waves while massive tabular icebergs towered over us. We even were lucky enough to see a minke whale amongst the ice.
We soon arrived at Brown’s Bluff where we soon saw thousands of Adelie and Gentoo penguins. We split up into our zodiac groups and got ready to land. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit melancholic and rainy, so we all had to pile on our layers and protect our cameras. However, when we got onto land, everything was worthwhile. All around us penguins were waddling about, jumping into the waves, or just taking a nap. It was so wonderful just to sit and watch the penguins wandering and interacting.
As we traveled further up the beach we soon saw many penguins were sitting on nests. A couple of them stood up to stretch, and we saw chicks peeking out beneath their stomachs. It was quite an experience.
After lunch we sailed a bit further to arrive at Esperanza Bay, an Argentinean base. The wind was starting to pick up so the zodiac landing was a bit tricky. On land, members of the base greeted us. Surprisingly, there was even a bunch of school kids running around. While we were getting a tour of the base, the wind continued to pick up blowing the waves into whitecaps. We were invited inside for the best hot chocolate I’ve ever hand in my life and snacks. We also went out into the snow to build a snow penguin. However, the wind continued to blow until we found out it was too windy to safely return to the ship in the zodiacs. We had to wait on land for several hours passing the time by playing games and singing songs. When we were finally able to get back to the ship, the waves were still pretty crazy. Everyone got really truly wet, especially the zodiac drivers. But it was a great experience, and I’m just happy to be back on board in my nice warm long-johns.
Well, it is the end of the new year, but the beginning of a new one full of new opportunities. Happy New Year’s to everyone at home!
Posted by Ankur Gupta, student
Where am I? Where am I. Where. Am. I. I get suited up and walk down to the gangway. The seas are a bit rough but still manageable. I step onto the zodiac, my transport pod, and away we go. The mountains loom nearer and the mini icebergs get closer. The waves try to keep us away as if protecting the land but we persevere through. We hit the ice and the rocks and do the “sit and spin” out of the zodiac and into the water. After stepping over ice and plunging through water, we step foot onto rocks and pebbles. Swarms of penguins come to greet us. Waddling on over, they greet us strangers. Antarctica. We have landed on the main continent. The shores are filled with penguins as we weave through the rocks in their home. I find a place to sit on the rocky beach and watch the lines of penguins first move from left to right along the shore looking for a good place to dive into the ocean. The waves crash amongst the ice and knock the penguins back. Some brave souls take the dive as the wave recedes and they swim out to sea. Others come back from sea and are slammed into the ice as they try to jump over it and onto the rocks.
Silly creatures. The penguins left decide that spot is unsafe and move back from right to left scurrying across in front of me, bumping and tripping over each other. Silly creatures. I turn around and see some more of our expedition reached the shore and slowly make their way across. I see a rock behind me as another penguin walks from the nesting sites towards it. It reaches the rock and places a wing upon it and the other wing at its side. It was as if it was using the rock as support as it watched us strangers walk past its home. Silly creature. It’s moments like these that make you bow down to Mother Nature. That make you stop and realize “I don’t own this world. I am not alone.” To my left is a rookery with penguin chicks hatching and hiding inside their parents. One chick flaps its undeveloped wings. A little brown fuzzball. In front of me is the line of penguins constantly trying to enter the ocean as a group. A few climb the ice only to slip back down. Behind me some more penguins nest as one steals pebbles from one nest to bring it to his own. He attempts again and is slapped by another penguin. The beauty of nature. And that was just the beginning of the day. Our next stop was at Base Antarctica Esperanza, an Argentinean base with 8 families that live on it. After a tour of the base and the best hot chocolate I ever had. We waited for a good few hours before we were able to take the zodiacs back. The winds were up to 50 knots and it can be dangerous to take a zodiac above 35 knots. We ended up taking the zodiacs back when the winds died down some. The. Best. Ride. Ever. I was never so soaked. Not to mention it was all Antarctica ice water as well. The water is salty by the way. Very salty. Anyway, later tonight we’re having a New Year ice party as we sail off to our next destination. What better place is there to spend New Year’s besides the bottom of the world?
Posted by Ale Cueva, student
“The Best Day of My Life!”
We finally set foot on Antarctica! I woke up and got ready because any moment Geoff could call us all to the zodiacs to make our first landing.
But actually we landed at about 11 o’clock at Brown Bluff. The staff divided us in two groups, the Adelies and the Orcas. I am a member of the Adelies and we got to got to be in the first zodiacs. We made a line and I went on the first trip to Brown Bluff. When we arrived, there were thousands of penguins waiting for us. We stayed for about 2 hours; we were surrounded by many many penguins and their chicks. It was so beautiful. After Brown Bluff we went back to the ship and had lunch, and then we went on our second landing of the day to Esperanza Base.
Esperanza Base is a base were military men live with their families. Most men are from Argentina and live their with their families for 1 year then go back to their homes for a while and then are sent back, but to a different base in Antarctica. When we arrived there were about 10 children from 11 to 14 years old waiting for us with smiles. They spoke Spanish, and I felt really fortunate because I’m from Mexico and I also speak Spanish. I spoke to them and I found out that they had been there for almost 12 months and they had never seen other children and they were so happy we were there. I loved the smiles in their faces while we were having snowball fights and while we were talking to them and asking them questions. This was the best day of my life because we made these kids happy by being with them for the whole day. After being with these kids I actually feel that we are in Antarctica and that we need to keep this place alive because it is so wonderful, and it is a home for many animals as well as humans. WOW! I didn’t want to leave and fortunately the wind picked up and we were trapped for about 2 more hours in Esperanza Bay, the kids were so happy and so were we, but we were also really cold. It was all worth it at the end. I never imagined coming to Antarctica and making kids happy.
I love and miss you all!!
Posted by Sara Hollingshead, student
The past twenty-four hours have been amazing. We have done and seen so much. Our “entrance” into Antarctica was really one-of-a-kind. We passed through the Antarctic Convergence two nights ago at around 8 pm. The waters got rougher and walking around the boat was much harder.
Yesterday, we saw our first iceberg at 4:40 pm! It was amazing. We were downstairs in the lecture room at a lecture/briefing, and when we came upstairs and went outside, we saw icebergs. It was clearly amazing. We reached Elephant Island shortly afterwards, and it was surrounded by fog. We were very fortunate, and were able to go for our first Zodiac cruise. The glaciers and icebergs around and on the island were fascinating. I was in Ingrid’s Zodiac for my cruise, and there were about 8 of us in the boat. We were able to get up close to the icebergs, and were able to see our first penguins. Ingrid brought the Zodiac in and through ice, and we all reached into the water and grabbed pieces of ice. Most of us ate a little bit of it, and threw it back, although a few took a huge piece and brought it back to the ship.
After dinner, there was a whale sighting. Everybody ran to the bow of the boat with their cameras. Ingrid announced that they were humpback whales, and the Captain slowed the ship down, and we were able to get very close to the whales. At one point, people were announcing that whales were on the starboard side, and the majority of people would run to that side, and look for whales. Then there would be another announcement that there were whales on the port side, so we’d run back.
We stayed outside for a good half hour. It was so cool.
This morning, we had our first landing at the Antarctic continent. We stopped at Brown Bluff, where we were greeted by many Gentoo and Adelie penguins. The Zodiac ride from the boat to land and back was so much fun. We had a “wet landing” where we had to get in and out of the Zodiac while still in the water. We also had to move around chunks of ice, which made it harder, though it was a lot of fun. There were many penguins walking around the island, and a lot of us just sat there and watched them, hoping a penguin would come up to us. Megan and I were sitting on a rock at one point, and a penguin slowly came over to Megan and was in an arms length distance. It was amazing.
We have another landing in 40 minutes at an Argentinean base, and where Fritz spent two and a half years 50 years ago. So it should be exciting.
I am having an amazing time, and I still can’t believe my eyes. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Hope all is well at home, and that everybody is enjoying the last few days of vacation. Happy New Year’s Eve!!!!
Posted by Felicia Vanacore, student
Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!! Yesterday after the zodiac tour I got sick and was sent to bed, but once I heard an announcement saying that there where humpback whales outside, I got dressed and went outside and took pictures. The zodiacs are amazing! They are a lot of fun! We saw penguins close up and even heard them! I didn’t take too many pictures from inside the zodiac because it was raining and I didn’t want to mess up my camera. Mom, I just want you to know that when I was sick I had really nice people taking care of me and I’m better now. We saw our first iceberg yesterday at 4:40 pm which means it was 2:40 pm back home in New York. I miss everyone so much and hope that you guys are reading my blogs!
This morning we saw so many more icebergs and now they are surrounding us!
We went through Iceberg Valley and I got some great pictures. We are going to make our first landing today with the zodiacs! We are actually going onto the continent today! Can you guys believe I am in ANTARTICA?! I still can’t believe I am actually here!
Last night was so much fun because after the whales we had a briefing in the lounge instead of downstairs and once I came upstairs I saw everyone run to the window and I ran to a window also to see what everyone was yelling about and it was penguins on an iceberg!! It was so cute and I tried to get some pictures but my friend Victor is going to send me some nice shots that he got. Then we all sat down and started the briefing and everyone was saying what the highlight of the day was! It went from being really foggy to really sunny and once the sun came out we saw the icebergs better and that’s when we saw the whales! Then Scobey told us a funny story, and then the best part of last night was when Ian sang us some songs that he made up! They were so beautiful I recorded some.
It’s a little cold outside, it’s not too bad but soon it will be. Geoff said that when we get onto the beach it could either be really cold or a little bit nicer. Oh and by the way, I was wrong again, there is a population of people in Antarctica, there is a school there and we are going to visit them. I think today but I’m not sure. There are people who were born there. I went onto the bridge of the ship and took pictures from there and I looked at the radar! It’s so cool. I even got a picture of the Captain in action. I think these journal entries get sent out a little later because there is no internet access so we just type them and then people send them out and then they get put up onto the site. The food on the ship is really good from what I hear. Today will be the first day I can actually eat the food because I feel a lot better. Well, I am off to eat some fruit and then start dressing a little bit warmer for when it's my turn to go onto a zodiac. We were put into two different groups and the first group is going out in a little while and then it’s my group’s turn. Happy New Year and I will be back tomorrow! Bye, everyone!
Posted by Chanel Lufkin, student
So at first when I was sick I thought this was the worst trip in the world, but now I am feeling so much better and really appreciate this trip more and more. Yesterday we saw so many different things! We saw a pod of Humpback whales. They were performing for us. We saw lots and lots of icebergs with penguins on them! It made me think about was important in my life! I loved seeing the birds, penguins, and whales, how they react to the people around them and how they loved seeing us!
They knew we were there, and they still did what they knew to do. When we first woke up yesterday morning there was tons of fog everywhere, but when we crossed into Antarctic waters it all went away, just like it showed up! The ice is beautiful. I feel lucky that I am going to see icebergs that could be gone in the next 100 years. I feel privileged to be here. I feel as if the waters welcomed us by gracing us with the whales and being able to see the seabirds and just how majestic all life here is in Antarctica! I wick love being able to tell people my stories of when I was in Antarctica! I hope that my experiences will go on and on for generations to come! If this is Antarctica on the first day we got here, what is the rest of Antarctica like?????
Posted by Emma Roche, Chaperone
It’s the last day of 2007 and it was definitely a day to remember! This morning, we landed at Brown Bluff. Although it has a volcanic history, it is now home to thousands of Adelie and Gentoo penguins. How amazing it was to watch a mother penguin feed her chicks, another slide in to the waves and my personal favourite, a penguin, lying on his stomach, stretching his wing as far forward as he stretched is back leg behind him. It was magical to walk amongst animals in their natural environment and not have them run away.
The afternoon was equally eventful. After an interesting tour of the Argentine base at Esperanza, we were set to head back to the ship for dinner. The wind had other plans for us. While waiting for the winds to calm, the students made snowmen and sang songs. A few hours past our scheduled departure, we piled in to the zodiacs and had a wavy and wet ride back to the ship. As Geoff put it, “Antarctica has her different moods.”
We just rang in the New Year with ‘the most creative and wacky long john party.’ I’m off to make my new year’s resolutions – lots of inspiration here in the Antarctic. Happy New Year and a hug to everyone at home – miss you.
Posted by Emily Anderson, student
Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!
Today was an exhilarating day. We started our day sailing through iceberg alley. There were several exquisitely shaped bergs drifting along. At the beginning of the day we started off with a lecture about the green seas. After our two long days at sea we finally landed on Antarctica! I’ve always been told there were millions of penguins, but I never really expected there to be as many as there were! It was very humorous to see them jumping and splashing around the ocean. After our landing, we visited the Argentinean base. Currently, eight families live there year round! Considering the climate today, I don’t think I would be able to do that. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like.
We were expected to leave the island around five thirty, but due to the rough seas and high winds we didn’t get back on the boat until eight. The zodiac ride was bumpy and cold, but fun. Tonight, numerous activities are planned for New Year’s. I’m very privileged to be spending my first day of the year in such a beautiful place. I miss all of you, and I am looking forward to sharing all the wonderful times I’ve had so far.
Posted by Roberta Maiz, student
Today is the last day of the year 2007. I can’t believe it! It been a wonderful day, we got to land in Brown Bluff, a volcanic island. There, we enjoyed watching penguins all over the edge of the waves walking by.
It was so curious how they walked, as well as when they swam. Penguins were everywhere. Some mothers had new born babies in their nests. Millions of penguins were being admired by us.
We left and headed to Esperanza, an Argentinean Base. There I got to meet the most wonderful kids. I had the advantage of speaking Spanish and was able to communicate easily with several children at Esperanza. I met about 12 out of the 22 children who lived at the base. Some said that they enjoyed living in Antarctica, others wanted to go back home. They were sent to this base because their parents got a job, some of the kids’ parents are teachers, doctors, part of the military, and others were scientists. They seemed extremely content seeing us. They were really polite and invited us to their main house. There we got a snack.
The wind was so violent, that we had to stay longer at the base then we expected. The kids seemed normal, they had internet, TV, parties, friends, went to school, and did everything that we do back home. I had a spectacular time with these children. It helped me realize the point of view of children living in Antarctica for one year. Their term in Antarctica is almost over; it ends in the middle of January.
Just seeing those kids’ faces I could feel their inner thoughts on us, students on ice, who were complete strangers. I can say that today was one of the best days of my life! I can’t wait for night to arrive, to have our New Years Eve party.
Posted by Michal Rosenthal, student
Today we woke up at 7:00 am, ate breakfast, and then we went out to the decks. We were sailing in an area called “the Antarctic sound”. It is like a gallery of icebergs. Everywhere I looked I saw a white-blueish ice-berg, shaped differently than the one beside it. We were lucky enough to see a minky whale, and penguins jumping out of the ocean sporadically. At 9:15 Eric was giving a lecture about the Green Sea in Antarctica-one of the most interesting lectures the educational team gave us. After that the students on ice were getting ready to step onto a new continent - Antarctica. We sailed with the zodiacs down to the Brown Bluff. There were so many penguins! It was impossible to count them all. Every penguin was walking behind its mate bare-footed (they don’t have capillaries in their feet), tottering to a huddle. Sitting by the beach, and watching those penguins’ impetuous and clumsy moves was tranquilizing. They were standing on little icebergs by the coast, and then they just jumped to the water. It made me smile like an idiot. This afternoon we are going to an Argentine base in Antarctica.
Tonight we will have a New Year’s Eve celebration, and Geoff might let us stay up until midnight.
Ima (Leory), Abba, Yoav and Tamar - I wonder what you are doing now, and think about you a lot. Thanks again for those letters. You have no idea what photos I have to show you when I come back.
Guy - Good luck in the game tomorrow, I wish I could hear your voice, and talk to you. We will have to catch up when I get back.
Shelly, Shir, Efrat, Hadar, Talia, Tal, Naama, Dor, Asaf and people I didn’t mention - how are you doing? I hope that all is well.
I miss hanging out with everyone, and I wish you could experience what I am experiencing right now.
In 25 minutes will have another zodiac cruise, and the orcas (my group) are going first. We are going to the “Esperanza” base, where people live year round. There we are going to get our passports stamped. I have to go and get organized, so happy new year and I’ll see you in 2008!
Posted by Charlotte Taylor, student
So far each day each day on this journey has been as varied and changing as the polar winds. We have been hiking through peat in the land of fire, explored the national park which to me had an astonishing resemblance to the forests of some parts of New Zealand, we have set sail, made new friends (with both people and toilets) and experienced the Drake Passage in relative calm.
Yesterday’s experience of Zodiac cruising around Point Wild in the fog was truly incredible it could be no better described than by some of my fellow students: it was like being transported from our world to the next. I can hardly believe all of Shackleton’s Endurance party survived here for such a great length of time.
We have just arrived back from our first Antarctic landing at Brown Bluff, home to the Gentoo and Adelie penguins. They truly are hilarious creatures, waddling around faces stern with their goal in mind whether it be stealing one another’s stones, trying to avoid being crushed by sea ice or generally searching for the meaning of penguin life (“42”). (How many penguins can a leopard seal eat? It’s 42 if you were wondering).
The scale of this continent and its surrounding waters really astounded me, it brings to life all of the pictures and stories of Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen and even modern day polar explorers. It makes you appreciate why Antarctica drew those people back after they suffered defeat and torment at the hands of mother nature.
Wendy and Leighton – thank you so much for organizing the gear for me, not only has it worked incredibly well but it has made me feel like a true polar explorer. Thanks to Melianie and Daniela for organizing such a great competition. I have loved the trip so far, I can hardly express it in words. I am really looking forward to the days ahead, excepting perhaps the return journey across the Drake Passage.
Mum, Dad and Danielle I hope you’re having lots of fun.
Posted by Kayla Costello, student
Happy New Year Everyone! I had a great time celebrating the holidays on our cozy little boat, and on Antarctica. Today was the first day that we actually got to set foot on the continent! Yahoo! It was such an exciting experience, quite unlike anything I have ever done before.
Everyone suited up in their layers of clothing and headed out to board the zodiac boats. Then we zipped over to the shore (I spotted a seal along the way) and climbed out into the knee deep water of Brown Bluff.
The penguins were all over the place! Penguins as far as the eye could see! They moved in what seemed like waves, chasing one another up and down the shore. I never realized how stupid the penguins are. They run into one another and waddle around. At one point a bunch of penguins all rushed into the water, only to be thrown back onto the shore by the waves. The penguins also come really close to you. If you stand very still and just watch them, it isn’t rare to see one waddle right past you. Speaking of waddling, the way they walk is absolutely hilarious! They throw back their arms and sway back and forth as they run down the shore. It almost looks as though they are running to give you a hug. One other strange thing that penguins do is steal stones. Each penguin makes a nest out of pebbles, and very often you can spot a penguin or two trying to steal the stones from a neighbors nest. This of course makes the other penguin angry, which causes an outbreak of yelling between the two of them.
The ride back from Brown Bluff was interesting. The waves had picked up and to get back into the zodiac boat you had to climb over ice and water. The boat moved up and down so much! It was really tricky when I had to climb back onto the Ushuaia. I love going on the zodiacs. They are really unlike any boat you have ever been on! But this return back to the boat was nothing at all like our second zodiac landing.
Later that afternoon we had a landing at Argentine Esperanza Base. We took a short tour of the base and rookery and then headed inside for some hot chocolate and sugar doughnuts. Once inside we were informed by Geoff that the wind was too strong to return to the ship. What was supposed to be a 2 ½ hour landing, ending up lasting for 6 hours! It wasn’t until 9 pm that we finally returned to the ship. But I didn’t mind waiting. We spent the time outside playing in the snow! Molly, Ankur, Rachel, Iain and I had so much fun throwing snowballs. After all our fun in the snow, it was time to load up the zodiacs and head back to the boat. Everyone on the zodiac ride got soaked from the waves. It was so nice to set foot back on the boat! Our zodiac drivers are just amazing! Without them, it would have been impossible to get everyone back to the ship safely. At the role call afterwards we all cheered when we saw our zodiac drivers walk in the door, like a group of superheroes.
But, the day’s excitement didn’t end there! It was New Year’s Eve and we had a long-john themed party. Everyone dressed up and their long underwear and celebrated the coming of the new year. It was so much fun!
We played games, wrote resolutions, and listened to Ian play the guitar for us. When the new year came we all screamed and hugged and were so excited! Some of my friends and I ran outside and screamed “Happy New Year!” to the icebergs floating by. 2007 ended with quite a bang. I cannot even imagine what the new year holds in store for us!
Posted by Lori Bostick, Chaperone
Happy New Year! Happy birthday to Jack! Happy Antarctica!
“We are sailing, we are sailing, and will meet you at the end of the world.” This line came from one of the songs by Ian Tamblyn, our Canadian musician/song writer onboard. How true that Antarctica becomes you, envelopes the soul, and you want to return! I truly believe in your lifetime, you must visit Antarctica (I want to do this again!).
Today was the moment in time that I will never forget…my first glimpse and step onto Antarctica! We were prepared for our initial zodiac landing this morning onto Brown Bluff as we sailed through the Antarctica Sound and Iceberg Alley. The spirits were high, the excitement was bouncing off the decks as we stepped onto our zodiacs and headed straight to the Antarctica coastline greeted by thousands of Gentoo and Adelie penguins. It was sleeting and the waves a bit choppy, and the ice was sloshing onto the beach. We laughed and smiled as the penguins slipped and slid into the icy cold blue water watching and waiting for us! I felt like Neil Armstrong as he stepped on the moon for the first time, it seemed like another world! We were in awe as we observed the penguins walking in long lines back and forth along the shoreline. How amazing the penguin parents are as they sat on their pebbled nests, waiting for their chicks to be hatched soon. And we admired the thousands of parents feeding their newborn chicks not caring that we humans were only 5 feet away from them! Yes, Esveidy, the first penguin I saw, I named Twinkie for you!
This afternoon we did a landing onto Hope Bay on the Peninsula which is a research center for Argentina. This was a very interesting community as it is one of only two locations on Antarctica that children are living on the continent! They were very proud to give us a tour and treated us so kindly with hot chocolate and what looked like Indian fry bread. But when we were ready to depart, a wind of 70 knots blew in and we had to wait for it to calm down. So we waited and waited and waited, and it got colder and colder and colder. Perhaps it got down to zero degrees F with the wind chill. Finally by 8 PM we made a run for it and quickly in three trips by our brave zodiac drivers, we arrived to our ship safe and sound with an unbelievable story to tell! This landing showed us the power of this continent.
It will probably it be a late night tonight with our celebrations, and a morning landing at Deception Island. Happy New Year!
Posted by Sara Martin, student
Happy New Year!
Well, we just got back on board the Ushuaia. After passing through “Iceberg Alley” we got to set foot on the Antarctic continent for the first time and it was penguins as far as the eye can see. They were great to watch, they’re so comical. There were Adelie and Gentoo penguins here at Brown Bluff. We were also lucky enough to get up close (but not too close) to nesting Adelies with chicks. The Skuas circled overhead waiting for us to scare a mom off her nest. To the best of my knowledge no chicks were snatched up. The ride to and from land was a lot of fun as well. Getting wet is definitely not something you can avoid in the Zodiacs. We were all soaked from the waves at shore. It was amazing watching the penguins move in and out of the water…how they don’t get crushed by the crashing ice is beyond me.
Later this afternoon we will get to make another landing, so long as the weather holds up. We’re going to be visiting an Argentine research base.
People live there all year round so it should be really interesting to see.
Last night we had some excitement here on board the Ushuaia as well.
Just as everyone was finishing up dinner Geoff announced that we were approaching a pod of humpback whales. We received the most amazing welcome by these whales. The captain slowed right down and even changed course to follow them. They entertained us for about 45 minutes, some getting REALLY close to the bow. It was incredible. The sun was going down and with a backdrop consisting of mountains and icebergs our encounter with the whales left us speechless and in awe. What an unbelievable evening.
Posted by Ian Tamblyn, Education Team Member
Nothing Very Special ‘Bout Me
December 2007 - by Ian Tamblyn
I’m a little gentoo penguin
Black and white as you can see
Similar to all the other gentoos
Nothin’ very special ‘bout me
I’m a little gentoo penguin
In a gentoo rockery
There! That’s me in the middle
Nothin’ very special bout me
Walk up that hill- walk down again
Swim across the deep blue sea
I’m a little gentoo penguin
Nothin’ very special ‘bout me
It’s nice of all you folks to visit
A break in the monotony
Frankly I don’t see the attraction
Nothin’ very special ‘bout me
I could talk about strength in numbers
That is our philosophy
Good breeding, we place above all others
Nothin’ very special ‘bout me
Not to say we don’t have issues
Talkin’ ‘bout old leopard seal
Chompin’ at my butt with those big teeth
How could he think I’m his meal!
Repeat 1st verse