Sunday, 31 January 2010

Shopping and Fluking

What’s an adventure expedition without a pre-breakfast landing? An opportunity to sleep in is what! Forget about it. That’s what our time at home is for. We want to maximize our opportunities to see Antarctica because for most of us our next time here will be exactly never.
A quick injection of caffeine at our bistro and we were ready to board the Polar Cirkle boats at 5:30. A short, brisk ride brought us to the single most visited site in all of Antarctica, Port Lockroy. Port Lockroy is the site of a former British Base and has been restored as a small but excellent museum. The income from the well-stocked gift shop goes to the British Antarctic Heritage Trust and amongst other things helps to maintain the museum. The Gentoo penguins here are more habituated to human visitation. They seemed completely oblivious to the 5 metre rule!

The rest of our day was taken up with scenic cruising with the highlight being Wilhelmina Bay. Whalers were well aware that Wilhelmina Bay was a prime spot for Humpback whales and that remains true today. We spotted many whales and were able to approach a group of three Humpbacks that were resting at the surface. The navigation officers approached the whales slowly and skillfully. Undisturbed, they continued in their resting mode: gently breathing and submerging barely beneath the surface. From time to time the three of them would dive under the ship and appear on the other side. At times we could clearly see the entire animal under the crystalline waters of Wilhelmina Bay.

Now we begin our return journey to Ushuaia but our trip is far from over. One never knows what wonders Drake Passage will reveal.