Thursday, January 3, 2008: Day 10
Yalour Islands, Antarctica - 8:25 am EST
Posted from SOI World HQ
The ship is sailing amongst some spectacular icebergs!
This morning the team will visit the Yalour Islands before heading to Port Lockroy in the afternoon.
Posted by Felicia Vanacore, student
Hey everyone! Well I know that back home school started yesterday and let me tell you I am so happy I am not back at school yet because honestly, where I am right now is my home and my school. But wow, I am having so much fun! Everyday is always a lot of fun but I have to say that between yesterday and today I love it more and more. Yesterday the second landing was amazing - the sites are so beautiful. Today, well, I just got in from the zodiacs and put on some clean and dry clothes and I just had to come straight to the computers to tell everyone about how happy I am right now. I can’t even explain it! I have been thinking about how to explain how I feel and it seems impossible but here it goes.
Well, we went out on a landing today and then we went on a zodiac cruise. We landed on Yalour Island and we stayed there for about an hour and a half. I sat by myself and took many pictures and just really observed and absorbed the beauty around me. I listened to sounds of nature and realized just how lucky I am and how grateful I am to be here and to experience this. When I looked around I realized that this is a place where nobody lives and no human made it look like this, and without help from humans, this is the most beautiful place on the planet. Everything is so natural and this isn’t something that people see everyday. Yes, it is true that no matter where you live there is a place where it is just simply amazing and that is the place you go to when you want to think or just to be alone, but this place is better than all those places because it is so quiet and peaceful and really makes you think “outside the box”. It is also snowing outside, which makes it more beautiful. Just to sit there and look through the clouds and see the huge mountains covered in snow is the best feeling. No matter how many pictures I take or from what angle nothing is better than actually being there in that moment and seeing it and having that feeling.
When we were sailing our way to Antarctica all the staff and all the other people that have been here said that when they got here for the first time they get this feeling. This feeling was hard to explain but it helped you to understand everything better and see life in a different way. Every time they talked about it, it made me want to get here quicker. During the first few days I just had fun but then it hit me that I feel the same, nothing was different, but then after yesterday and today and having all that time alone and time to think - just staring out into the beauties of Antarctica - I felt something. Now I don’t think it’s the feeling that everyone else talked about, its kind of different. I kind of felt empty and like I was starting all over. It definitely wasn’t a bad feeling, it was kind of a refreshing feeling. I am not sure that anything I am saying makes sense but it is just something that you can’t explain. When we went onto the zodiac cruise I realized so much more. I got to sit at the nose of the zodiac because I was trying to get a different view for my pictures but then Ingrid said that I can sit there but I had to hold on tight. We began to go faster and faster, the snow coming into my face, my hat feeling like it was going to blow off, passing the biggest icebergs, it all began to feel like I was flying and I was dreaming. I closed my eyes for a minute just to take it all in but then I realized if I close my eyes I am missing out so I opened them right away. Even though I was freezing and couldn’t feel my hands or feet I wanted to stay out there forever and just keep going faster and faster and only slowing down to take more pictures. I can’t even tell you how huge these icebergs were and how close I was to them. I absolutely love this trip and love being here. It is something I want to tell everyone about because everyone deserves time away to have fun and just get that refreshing feeling or just a wonderful feeling like this. As we were flying through the waters it felt like I was alone and there was nobody else around me. I forgot that I was away from home and that I am with so many other people, it all just felt right. I have never experienced the feeling of something being totally right. It is just amazing!
Well there is still so much more of today to come and I am freezing so I am going to go make some hot coco and play cards for a little while until lunch is ready. Hope everyone is having a good time and I hope you remember that no matter where you are there is natural beauty and nature everywhere, don’t forget to appreciate it and really look at it. Bye everyone talk to you later!
Posted by Mathew Sallady, student
Today was a nice day. After a day of having a morning (before breakfast) landing, and waking up at 6:00 AM yesterday, we got a nice little chance to sleep in. We had a good breakfast and we had about an hour before our first landing of the day. I simply read in my book and waited. After half an hour I decided to go to the lounge and heard from one of the chaperones that there was going to be the landing, there just wasn’t an announcement regarding one yet. Soon after, when the announcement did come, we heard that it was far too windy outside to go into a Zodiac. There were also surges in the water, so it made the possibility of a Zodiac ride even less likely. Though after another hour we got word that we could go into the Zodiacs, and that the Orca group (my group) was first.
The Zodiac ride was nice and then when we got to the island we got off of the Zodiac and onto the shore. Luckily it wasn’t too wet and we got to step off on a rock instead of stepping into the water. Everyone got on shore and we were pretty much free to do whatever except for wander off and disturb the animals. The first thing I went to was a rocky area with some puddles in it, and we saw a giant seal, it was an Elephant Seal. It already looked massive, though David, the guy there talking about the seal was saying that it was only a few years old. He also mentioned that the adults often grow to 3-4 tons (WOW) and grow a lot bigger than the one we were seeing. After a while I went over to Fritz and started talking to him, he started talking about stories of the glaciers and everything, it was rather interesting. After that it was time for the Zodiac cruise, and that was fun. For our driver we had a New Zealander named Ingrid, and one of the things she’s famous for is a love for Orca. We saw all the icebergs and then noticed a yacht in the middle of a bay. She made a turn for it and we saw the ship – and we thought our boat was small. When we were starting to head away from the yacht a small little Zodiac came towards us - they were from the Yacht. We learned they had 5 people on-board and people from all over too, there was one from New Zealand and so Ingrid was happy.
After that we waited for a while and then we got the call to go into our Zodiacs again. This time I was actually happy at first because I had dry socks and dry boots (I switched from my boots to the boat’s boots). There was going to be two different landing areas, one at Port Lockroy, and another at some other place. Our landing for the Orca group, the group I’m in, was the other landing, and we got Ingrid again for the Zodiac ride. It was fun as usual.
When we finally got to the shore we got off of the Zodiac and gazed around us. There were the standard Gentoo Penguins, which despite their frequent numbers, still interested me. There were also some whale bones, I actually got a picture of me with the bones. They were MASSIVE, absolutely massive. After we were off of the shore we asked Ingrid what kind of whale bones we saw on the shore, then we learned that it was not one specific whale, it was multiple whales; a little bit of Blue whale and a little bit of Humpback whale. After that we went to Port Lockroy. My main highlight in that area was that I just sat there and watched a little nesting area that had about 8 Gentoos on nests. I ended up watching them for the next 15 min, but during that time it was quite interesting what I saw.
Posted by Ankur Gupta, student
Walls of ice grace the sky. Our zodiac cruises slowly as we observe icebergs close up. Who would have thought so much detail could be put into these floating objects. Most of this trip we have spent “whizzing” past the icebergs in our ship. We have never really had the chance to stop and look. Something we should always be doing in life. Here I go being philosophical again (I blame the clean air down here). Life does pass us by as we go about our daily routine constantly trying to add more to our schedules to just go faster. I don’t understand why we do this but we do. And at that speed we miss the details, which are what makes the life unique and of importance. It is just like these icebergs. The patterns and shapes the ice take become a blur unless you slow down and take a moment to look at them. We have one more day left at the bottom of the world before we start our journey back up north. I’m afraid a lot of us, including myself, will slip back into our usual routine. Our lives have slowed down here but in order to get back to our routine, we will need to speed up again. I don’t know why life is so fast the further away from the poles you are. Maybe it’s because the earth spins faster at the equator. Think physics and a spinning sphere. I only hope after this trip that even if we slip into our daily routines that our mindset is still with the Antarctic and our planet in general. That it somehow will affect our daily lives. This expedition just needs to affect one person to start a change, but if it can affect all 80 or so of us then think of what could be accomplished. We are all young and the majority of students are in high school or even still in middle school. This means our whole life and what we aim to do with our lives is still in front of us. Most students haven’t even thought about college yet so hopefully when they do, they choose something to do with helping our planet. Climate change and sustainability of the earth are long term issues that our generation will have to deal with. By educating our generation about these issues (something I know the U.S. school system does NOT do at all) now, it gives us time to train ourselves to solve these issues in the long run. Enough of philosophizing. Iceberg cruising is fun. It’s awesome. After we cruised, we landed at Pleneau Island where we had a little time to ourselves to bask in the sounds and environment of Antarctica. I saw an interesting sight there. One penguin was either trying to steal another chick or help a chick back into its nest. The parent tried to fend it off so the chick ended up staying in the cold too long. Unfortunately, as you can guess, the baby did not survive. But that is nature. It can be harsh and unrelenting sometimes. Our last stop for today was at Port Lockroy, an old British research base. It’s now a museum that is kept just as it was 50 years ago. We’re anchoring here for the night before our last day tomorrow.
Posted by Brittany Pieters, student
Today we woke up right before 7 AM so we could look at the glaciers on the sides of the Lemaire Channel. We saw a weddell seal floating on a small piece of ice on the starbord side of the ship. Also, our first landing spot was cancelled because of poor conditions so we decided to land a little further up and land at the Yalour Islands. When I stepped out of the zodiac I slipped on a rock and got my leg wet up to my thigh. On the island we saw two large elephant seals that David predicted were between 5 and 6 years old. The seals were two males and their snouts were not developed yet but, their bodies were like brown sacks filled to the absolute fullest. At the end we boarded the zodiacs and took a cruise around where we saw many icebergs that were unusual in shape demented by the water and wind. In our zodiac we also stopped to eat Antarctic Popsicles which were icicles. I had a long nap and afterwards we went on our next landing at Port Lockroy and also an Island very close to it. The orcas landed first at Peno Island where whale bones had been set out like a replica of a blue whale. Afterwards we went to Port Lockroy where we sent postcards, bought souvenirs, and looked at the amazingly clear water. For dinner we had a BBQ with the 3 people from the base. The scenery around us was so beautiful because the skies actually were clear today. Serin and I just sat on the top deck and looked at the glacier. While we were there part of it collasped and made the water roll. All in all, this journey has been amazing and I can’t believe tomorrow is our last day. Anyone who has not experienced Antarctica . . . it is almost unimaginable. Because of this unique beauty, preserve this continent!
Posted by Lilith Wyatt, Chaperone
One of the greatest feelings in the world is sharing joy with other people. Our zodiac cruise through icebergs this morning was that feeling at its best. Every one was completely different and so incredibly beautiful. It’s impossible to imagine exactly how they formed with patterns and fissures and spires and shapes that only an artist of sorts could have created. Mother Nature is at her best here, and being able to get close and just take it in gives this inexplicable euphoria, and seeing Irene Shivaei (from Iran) getting more and more excited with every new iceberg just filled my heart to bursting with pure joy. The students and their full engagement in this experience have solidified my belief in the power and importance of outdoor experiential education. Their curiosity and excitement and their awe and appreciation have been amazing to watch develop in the past week. And it’s still only morning! Who knows what the day will bring, this place never ceases to amaze me.
Posted by Serin Remedios, student
Theme Song of the Day: Please, Please, Please - Final Fantasy (Owen Pallet)
Well, this is going to be a very quick journal entry. These past two days have been so filled with activities that it’s hard to find time to write journals, especially since something new is always happening. Today consisted of building a snowman on the ship, a landing, a zodiac cruise, another landing to see old whale bones, and then a visit to Port Lockeroy, a British base. At the base, I was able to send my postcards!
I have just realized that this is our second last day in Antarctica. I really don’t want to leave Antarctica—it just has this way of growing on you that latches on and won’t let go. However, at the same time I’m looking forward to going home, back to my community, and sharing my experiences and lessons. There is so much that I believe people can learn from trips like these about themselves, others, and the world. I hope that I can influence people to make a difference in the world. I hope that I can convince someone just to change one aspect of their life to help protect this pure, majestic continent. I hope I can maintain my passion and carry it throughout my life.
Well, we’re five minutes past curfew so I’d better wrap it up. Goodnight to everyone at home, and I guess I’ll be seeing you soon.
Posted by Lori Bostick, Chaperone
Greetings from the bottom of the earth! We traveled today to the most southern point we are going on this trip, to the end of the Lamaire Channel on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. It has been a very busy 2 days for us with several landings per day, and we have noticed that as we travel south it has gotten colder. We woke up this morning to the deck full of snow, and some of the students even made a snowman!
The last two days have been sensational with many outdoor workshops! To all of my Sundance students, the greatest classrooms I have ever participated have been in a zodiac boat going through the gallery of icebergs, the hike up and the slide down a glacier, and sitting next to the bay watching the skua bird pick at the remains of a dead penguin. Our ship certainly proved to be the primo icebreaker that she was built for, as this morning she demonstrated her worth because we sailed through the ice waters. We also landed at Port Lockroy (a British post) where we mailed our postcards. It is the most visited spot in Antarctica. We have invited the three people who run the old base to the ship for a BBQ dinner tonight!
Thank you to my family, friends, colleagues, and students for everything you have done for me supporting this adventure. Also many thanks to the parents of all of our students, as this was a life changing experience for us all. As we wrap up this incredible expedition, there will be much reflection on the mission we have awaiting us when we arrive home. Let us make it through the Drake calmly…remember the good karma!
Posted by Ian Tamblyn, Education Team Member
Over The Moon
Thrilled to my heart
When I hear your laughter
Thrill to my heart
When I see you smile
And it moves me, man
To see your rapture
And it moves me
Right to my soul
Thrilled to my heart
When I see you dancing
Thrill to my heart
When I see you spinning around
You can call this a dance
Call this a chapter
But it moves me
Right to my soul
Thrill to my heart
Your eyes wide open
Tasking it in
Breathe deep, be bold
Cuz it moves me, man
To see your passion
Over the moon, to my soul
I’m A Copepod
I’m a Copepod in the deep blue sea
Everybody wants to make a meal outta me
From the itty bitty krill to the humpback whale
Slappin’ on the surface with his great big tale
There are amphipods and isopods and dinoflagellates
Students on ice with their goddamn nets
I got no fins I just got legs
I try real hard so I can’t get away
In my last life I was a king
I had a castle a queen I had everything
But this time round when I came back
I ‘came a copepod and I don’t move fast
Repeat first verse
Posted by Noor Al Falasi, student
We had a long day today, woke up early. Serin, Atala, Zander and I made a HUUUUUUGE snow man and named it Shackleton after the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. We had 2 landings today and a zodiac cruise around breathtaking icebergs. I’m making this short because it’s curfew time, and I have to get to bed. So yes, today is our second last day in Antarctica, and I really don’t want to go back! I love it here, it’s amazing. Everything is fresh and clean. The wildlife and scenery are just fantastic. I hope tomorrow turns out to be a great day. I guess all I can do is wait and see.
I love Antarctica!
Posted by John Quinesso, Chaperone
Well, this morning we approached the southern most point of our journey – the Lemaire Channel. Not surprising, we woke up to snow on the decks of the ship and sailed through quite snowstorm. Some of the kids enjoyed making a snowman on deck – complete with a “Student’s On Ice” hat!
After breakfast, we had our first landing of the day at the Yalour Islands. Here, we were welcomed by thousands of Gentoo Penguins, five Elephant Seals, and one Crabeater Seal. Of course the penguins outnumbered the seals, but the seals were really beautiful!
We all love the six Zodiac boats that shuttle us from the Ushuaia to our various landings as well as take us on our periodic “Zodiac cruises.” Today, we experienced a phenomenal cruise through “Iceberg Alley” where we were mesmerized by all of the beautiful icebergs floating majestically in the waters surrounding our ship. It’s amazing at their sizes and shapes. Truly magical!
Port Lockroy, a British research base, was the destination of our sunny afternoon landing. There, we visited with the three (3), yes three people who occupy the base and yes, MORE Gentoo Penguins!! OMG – I think we have seen literally hundreds of thousands of penguins! The kids enjoyed the small museum and gift shop, and we also had the chance to mail our postcards to all of our friends and relatives back home that will bear a rare and coveted Antarctic postmark! We’re told that delivery will take about a month. What a great keepsake!
Tonight we enjoyed a delicious barbecue dinner that was cooked outside on deck – but even though it IS summer here, the weather conditions are such that outdoor dining – while possible – is not advisable! Accordingly, we ate our meal in the dining room!
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow (Friday) is our final day of exploration on and around Antarctica before we make our way back to the tumultuous seas of the Drake Passage! What an experience this continues to be!
Wishing you all well from the world’s end….
Posted by Mackenzie Lunney, student
SORRY for not writing in so long. There’s just been so much stuff going on here! We’ve seen whales, seals, penguins, rocks, ice, etc. The most spectacular thing I’ve seen yet has got to be this one iceberg we passed yesterday. It was like a mushroom; smooth and straight on bottom, but extended out at the top. It was beautiful, and all I could do was stare in wonder and awe as I pondered all the possible ways it could’ve gotten like that.
Penguins are so cute! I’ve taken lots of pictures and videos and cannot wait to show you all how adorable they are! They were the ones who brought me back to reality. This trip has seemed so surreal, until we had our first actual landing with loads of penguins. Many of the penguins had blood stains and scars covering their bodies. It made me realize that we are not in a zoo and that these are real penguins in the real wild and the real Antarctic. They are the ones who made me think about how vulnerable and easily taken down a single animal is.
This once-in-a-lifetime trip is probably the best trip. I’ve seen so many sights, sights only seen in Antarctica. We have seen glaciers crumble (we actually heard them more than saw them), some people saw a skua eat (or at least try because I wasn’t there and I don’t know) a penguin, and we have made so many friendships and connections that only a two week boat trip could do. I can’t believe how fast this trip has flown by.
I’m going to miss everyone and everything when this trip is over and I definitely hope that I can return to the Antarctic later on in my life.
MISS YOU, LOVE YOU!
Posted by Kayla Costello, student
Hi Everyone! These past two days have been really busy, and I haven’t had much time to write. Today’s entry is also going to be short because our curfew is in a few minutes. But, everything is wonderful and, as usual, I am having the time of my life!
Yesterday, we made an early morning zodiac landing on Danco Island. Once there, we hiked up the glacier (which is a lot easier said than done). Imagine walking up a very steep hill covered in snow with all of your cold gear on. But, it was definitely worth it! The view was unbelievable! At the top of the glacier we took a group photo and had a moment of silence. Antarctica is very quiet (other than the sounds of penguins). After, we came back to eat breaksfast it was time to make another landing in a place called Neko Harbor. At the harbor, we had three workshops (geology, ice dating, and oceanography data gathering). I loved the ice dating workshop because at the end we got to slide down a HUGE hill! It was so much fun! It may take us a long time to get up a hill, but coming down is another story. I think we even go faster than the penguins! Our third landing for the day was cancelled due to weather, but we got to stay on the boat and sail through some ice-filled waters. It was so cool!
Today, was also really fun. We woke up and watched the ship sail through the Lemaire Chanel. This was really beautiful. I have so many great pictures from the trip (although every picture I am in looks like I am standing in front of a green screen). Our first landing of the day was on Pleneau Island. During the landing we had some time to spread out and have some alone time. It was so interesting to sit in Antartica, without any people in sight, and just watch the animals. I closed my eyes to listen to everything and all of a sudden I heard a loud “Pfft!” It was a seal! A whole bunch of seals, not too far off in the distance! They are such interesting animals to watch! After our stop at Pleneau Island we got to stop at a British Base called Port Lockroy. At the base, I sent my postcards and bought some souvenirs. I never imagined there would be a souvenir shop in Antarctica! The thought of it was really funny. We had some free time near the base to walk around the island, and a group of us sat and watched the penguins. They are really cute to watch! The area we were in had little baby penguin chicks that had just hatched. How adorable!
Dinner was a traditional Argentine Barbecue, and finally our day concluded with a presentation from Belinda on her trip to the Titanic. She has dived to the wreck 12 times! Did you know that more people have gone to space, than have gone to the Titanic? And one of those lucky people is on my ship!
Well, I have to wrap it up! Tomorrow is our last day in Antarctica and, then it is time to face the Drake Passage. I hope it is good to us! I really am not ready to leave at all! Antarctica is such an amazing place, and I never imagined it would be as great as this. Pictures cannot capture its beauty!