Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Esperanza Station and Brown Bluff

The views out of the windows from the breakfast table were stunning: Over night, we had sailed into the Antarctic Sound, also called “Iceberg Alley”. Large grounded tabular icebergs lined our way into Hope Bay on the Southern side of the Sound. 

This is where the Argentine Esperanza Station is situated. A large leopard seal welcomed us at the beach, and in small groups, we were guided through the station. Actually, the station resembles a small town. Everything is there, a community center for social activities, a school, a church, a museum, all kinds of workshops and laboratories…

Brown Bluff, our afternoon landing site is situated nearby. The name comes from the brown volcanic deposits in the cliff that forms the picturesque background of one of the largest Adelie penguin colonies in Antarctica. The colony was teeming with half-grown penguin chicks. It was a great place for us to observe the behavior of the penguin chicks begging for food from the adults who returned from the sea with their fill of krill. Also a lot of stone thieves were lurking among the penguins. They were picking up pebbles from unattended nests to add them to their own nest.

The glacier moraine to the side of the colony was a great viewpoint to oversee the ice-filled bay, and we even accomplished guided tours on the nearby glacier with our experienced glacier guides.

After dinner we got a very special dessert. A pod of Orcas visited the ship and we enjoyed their company for more than half an hour. They slowly moved along the ice edge, and we could nicely see the hook-shaped dorsal fins of the females as well as the long sword-shape dorsals of the males.