Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 3: South Shetland Islands

Things I have learned about penguins:

1. They smell. Bad. I am sitting in my cabin and the whole ship smells like penguin Guano. Its really disgusting. If you have ever smelled bat guano, you know what I am talking about. It's pretty similar.

2. They are like cockroaches here. When they tell you that you will get to see penguins on this trip, they are really, really serious. Like tens of thousands.

3. Penguins are in no way afraid of humans. Like they stop if they are crossing your path, in your way and give you the stink eye before moving on.

4. Penguin chicks are slave drivers. The find their moms, eat all they can and then chase their moms, squawking, back into the ocean in so they can go get them more food.

5. Penguins smell really badly.

6. They are really cute and funny and they smell.

7. Penguins are really photogenic and they will stop and stand still for you so that you may get an awesome picture of them. Also, they smell.

We ended u doing both of the landings on the South Shetland islands that I mentioned in my last post. We saw thousands and thousands of penguins at these two colonies. We saw Gentoo and chin straps. The Gentoo are the ones with the white band across the tops of their heads, and the chinstraps are easily recognized by the obvious strip on their chins that looks like a chinstrap. I now have 785 thousand pictures of penguins. One even had the nerve to walk right up to me and gently peck at me before cocking his head, and then walking off. No, I am not your mommy and no, I do not have any pre-chewed fish. Sorry about that. We are told to give them 5 meters clearance, but if they walk up to you, you are allowed to let them, so most of us do. The second stop also brought us some fir seals and even a Weddell seal on the beach. Both sites were totally amazing, and we even got a close look at our first small icebergs. While traveling between the sites, we even spotted humpback whales. No breaching, but we did see spouting and some people saw the cresting as well.

On the health front, I felt really bad this morning and didn't get much sleep thanks to crazy rampant coughing. I went to the doctor again this morning and I have been give a course of antibiotics to make sure that pneumonia does not happen. The doctor says whichever thing it is, I should be well again in a couple of days and she is still not super worried about it, so I will not be either. I went out, obviously, even though I feel lousy, and I have completely lost my voice. Ugh. However, I a not letting anything stop me from getting everything I can out of this experience.

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