Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 6: An odd one

Today was a bit of an odd one. We started out by going to some really low lying islands to have a cruise to see some Adelli penguins, which we had not yet seen. However, the water was really choppy and the skies were a bit darker than usual (there's always gray clouds everywhere here, we rarely see the sun). We got on the zodiacs anyway, but the guides all were noticeably more concerned looking. Our guide for that trip said that they go out in worse conditions though so I was not worried. However, about all they could do was pull the zodiacs up to the islands and try and hold them against the currents while we tried to take pictures of penguins. I only got a few that I think are ok, but the experience was fun (for me, not for a lot of the passengers - it was cold and choppy and they were visibly anxious to get back to the ship).

As soon as I got back to the ship, I noticed that it was rocking a bit harder than normal so I immediately popped a sea-sick pill and laid down for a nap. I ended up sleeping through lunch as the ship started going more and more crazy. About half of the ship got sick while I was passed out. Chris was really not feeling well, but he managed to not get sick from it. I decided to go ahead and put my patch back on tonight as we have about 3 days left anyway.

This afternoon we all suited up and went to port Lockroy, which was a British outpost that they have turned into a museum so you can see how people lived through the winter here, as well as a gift shop and a post office. We mailed a postcard to ourselves from there and it should take 4-7 weeks to get to us, depending on the weather. There was, as usual, penguins all over the place at the port, and the station is partly being used to see what the effects of tourism is on the penguin colonies. Surprisingly, our on-board bird expert says that penguin colonies that have regular visitors actually do the same or slightly better, because the predators tend to stay away from places that humans are.

Then the carted us on the zodiacs to another close-by point where they used to process whales back in the day. There were tons of whale bones around and they reconstructed a skeleton of a whale on the beach. Sadly, this was also a place where it is getting colder already, so some of the penguins have started molting before their chicks are big enough. Molting takes all their energy and they basically just stand there for 2 weeks while it happens, without moving or eating. This means that they can no longer feed their chicks, so if they are not big enough yet, they tend not to make it. There was a lot of evidence of chicks not making it on that beach. It was sad. The circle of life and all that...

The bar was really awesome tonight. Dan and Collin, who are two of our guides got out guitars and did a concert/sing-a-long for a couple of hours. The asked us to make stuff up about what happened on this trip and then they improved a couple of songs about our tall tales. A good time was had by all.

Tomorrow is our last day in Antarctica. I hope it is less odd than today!

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