Thursday, 7 February 2013

The why not day

After picking up the campers at Horseshoe we set out for a little exploration in the northern part of Marguerite Bay. Marguerite Bay is a large bay in which to the south is the Wordie Ice Shelf and to the north is Adelaide Island. Along the bay we saw several tabular icebergs all of which originated from the Wordie Ice Shelf, although some ice from glaciers was also present.

We started the day with a bit of soft snow fall. Our exploration started at Pourquoi Pas Island (or the Why Not Island) we landed at Bongrain Point, a Fram first. It was the first time at that site not only for passengers but also for staff as well. The site contained a small colony of about 700 breeding pairs of Adélie Penguins, and literally hundreds of skuas around the colony. Some skuas were breeding as well and had small nestlings that were cute and cuddly.  The penguin colony contained many well grown chicks and some were ready to go to sea. Also there were many adults at different stages of moulting. The key to distinguish the young from the adult Adélie Penguins is in the throat: young will have white while the adults have black throats. Around the colony several Fur Seals were found, and some were very grumpy.

As it was the "why not day", during the afternoon we continued with explorations of Marguerite Bay and we decided to go to Jenny Island. Jenny was another unknown site for us. There we found several seals including large numbers of Elephant Seals. We attempted unsuccessful landings at several sites but there were too many rocks and heavy swells for the Polar Circle boats to handle. However, we managed to do a landing in a corner of a large cobble beach. Slightly higher above the beach, the island was covered with Fur Seals and the large swells restricted us to a small area, but we succeeded in observing Elephant Seals and some Fur Seals.