Sunday, 22 November 2009

Cuverville Island and Port Lockroy

We awoke to beautiful sunny conditions today amongst the islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. Some fog and snow in the night slowed us down a little but we made it to our first landing at Cuverville Island in plenty of time. There we were blessed with bright sunshine, warm conditions and no wind, which is a rare combination in Antarctica!

Cuverville Island was discovered by Gerlache on his 1897-99 voyage, who named it for J.M.A. Cavelier de Cuverville (1834-1912), a vice admiral of the French Navy. For us it provided fantastic views of nearby Rongé Island, the mainland of Antarctica, and its animal residents- the Gentoo Penguins and skuas. The penguins were beginning to build their nests and lay eggs, and the skuas were patiently waiting for the snow to melt so they could get their breeding season started as well. We knew the Gentoos had started to lay because we watched as a skua flew over the colony with a stolen Gentoo egg. We also received an image from one of our passengers that proves penguins can fly!

In the afternoon we repositioned to Port Lockroy and on the cruise were awestruck with the beauty of the ice-clad mountains of Antarctica. The light was great for wildlife photography on our Port Lockroy landing, which included a visit to the Gentoo and Blue-eyed Shag colony at Jugla Point.

At the British Base A, Port Lockroy, people were able to do some shopping and post letters and cards at the official British Post Office there. The Base is maintained by the United Kingdom Artarctic Heritage Trust (