• Day8

    Once Upon a Time There Was Snow

    February 17, 2020 in Antarctica ⋅ ☁️ 32 °F

    We woke this morning in Paradise Bay. One group went out in kayaks, but another group planning to camp on the continent overnight had to cancel their plans because of bad weather. I just heard that one of our Zodiacs encountered a humpback whale that simply floated beside their boat for several minutes.The ship has moved a few miles and anchored just off the beach at the Gonzales Videla Research Station. This Chilean outpost is named for the first head of state to set foot on the frozen continent. He visited here in 1940 at the site where two British explorers spent a year and a day in 1921-22 with only an overturned whaleboat for a shelter. Thomas Bagshawe, one of the two explorers, began a study of the Gentoo penguins here which continues to this day. Antarctica is going through a heat wave this summer. Chilly winds make us keep our jackets on, but highs have been in the 40's, and at no time during our trip has the temperature dropped to the freezing point. Though they were cute, the penguins here are filthy. With no snow here they are forced survive in ankle-deep mud. Most of their fellows have already begun their five-month-long feeding swim in the ocean, but these birds are still molting. Until they finish shedding old feathers and growing new ones that will allow them to swim, their young will endure with almost no food. And the molting adults will simply stand in the mud. Itching. Shedding old feathers. And waiting. In the mud.Read more