Friday, February 08, 2008

A long morning

February 8
We were awakened at ~ 4 this morning for the sunrise and a view of the Antartica Sound, aka Iceberg Alley. We were not disappointed. Words cannot describe the view we received upon arriving on the bridge. Orange hues of the sun rising over the iceberg dotted horizon mixed with the irridescent blues of the glacier ice floating about. Breathtaking and awe inspiring are two words that pale in comparison to the sight.
It's been a long day already as you can imagine. At 9am we headed out on the Zodiacs amidst floating pack ice to Paulette Island where we were greeted by 100,000 breeding pairs of Adele penguins. So that's 100,000 pairs (100k *2 = 200k) and those pairs each have 2 chicks = 400,000 penguins. WOW! That's a lot of penguins. They covered every square meter of this volcanic, rocky beach. The beach was long and they nested on the hills, on the beach and everywhere in between. I felt so sorry for the ones on the hills as they had about a 1/3 of a mile walk each way to get food for their young. There were signs of nature's survival of the fittest here. The carnage was vast. Bodies of dead penguins everywhere and their predators, the birds named Skua, were feasting. We watched as parents fed their young (both mom and dad rear the chicks). Penguins are habitual creatures with 99% of males returning year after year to the exact nest they left the year prior. Females about 60%. They probably find a better more macho mate the other 40%. We had to be careful where we stopped as they have penguins highways. If you're standing on the highway they get very confused and have no clue how to get around you. They literally have worn paths into the rocks and mud, from their nest to the sea.

It's lunch now, time to eat and then prepare to go out again to Brown's Bluff. We are so busy and today, tired. I have found someone with a laptop that will shrink a few pix for you guys so I can post them. Sorry about the spelling


Anonymous said...

I just sit here and smile at your words Dawn. I'm so glad you are able to experience this. And then share it so well. Thank you! I'm still laughing at Arlene though. ::snicker::



Joan said...

If I were asked what one part of the trip was my favorite, it would have to be Iceberg Alley. I just loved cruising around all of the different icebergs in the zodiac. I enjoyed all of the different hues of blues, the little waterfalls and tunnels, formations, etc. I didn't know what word to describe what I was seeing, other than "surreal." We were out in the zodiac for quite awhile, as we had a leopard seal darting around us. The guide summoned the other zodiacs and soon the leopard seal had lots to play around with. We were told that they are very dangerous, so to keep all of our body parts inside of the zodiac! (Duh...) It's not like we were out in the wild or anything like that. It's kind of scary when you think about how far removed from civilization you really are. In fact, your ship recently came to the rescue of the Explorer as it was sinking. That's the ship I was on 3 years ago...