Saturday, 18 February 2012

Smooth motoring to Half Moon Island

Chinstrap Rookery
Copyright Anke Timmerberg

Our good fortune continued as the Fram motored along in nearly flat seas. On our way southward, we attended the required briefings where we learned the regulations established by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). Most importantly we need to remember to stay 5 meters or 15 feet distant from our new friends.

Chinstrap Penguin
Copyright Anke Timmerberg

Excitement increased in the afternoon as we were fitted for our boots and prepared for our first landing at Half Moon Island. Our first polarCirkle boat ride to shore was a new experience for us but soon we will be old hands at leaving the Fram and riding ashore and getting in and out of the polarCirkle boats. The landing at Half Moon Island was in smooth waters and the Expedition Leader briefed us as to our time ashore and directed us to the pathways that had been set out by the Expedition staff.

Up the hill from the landing site and we were in a very active colony of Chinstrap penguins. It seemed as though 100’s of molting chicks were wandering about clamoring for their parents to return and feed them. Some of us walked over the ridge to the other side of the island were we were met by 40 to 50 fur seals, more Chinstrap penguins and a few Adelie penguins. Skua gulls, Snowy sheathbills and the occasional Antarctic tern circled the penguin rookeries. Overall today was a much better day than yesterday for the bird-watchers among us.

Fur Seal
Copyright Anke Timmerberg