Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Antarctica 2014

Here are some highlights of our Antarctica trip, 4-19 January 2014, loosely organized by subject.

To go to the stills, you can click at the lower left of the slideshow.

In due course, we'll post the day-by-day pictures, maps, etc.

Our itinerary was: Ushuaia, Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Antarctica Peninsula I:
Brown Bluff / Antarctic Sound

14 January

At sea in the morning toward Antarctic Peninsula

Tabular and pack ice. Cape and Wilson petrels. Brown Browed Albatross. Minke whale? Pod of Orcas (the first of two big Orca events). Humpbacks and long whale chase, delaying:

Brown Bluff, landing (7:30)

Landing: Brown Bluff (late)

Brown Bluff at north end of the Antarctic Pensinsula, and on the south side of the Antarctic Sound. Famous colony of Adélie penguins (gray chicks) and Gentoo with larger fledglings than we had seen before.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monroe Island, South Orkney Islands

12 January at sea

In the morning we encountered many Fin whales.

13 January
Monroe Island Zodiac cruise

This was an extra stop on the way to the Antarctic peninsula. The South Orkney Islands are claimed by Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The Zodiac cruise was through ice and around spectacular glaciers. Leopard, Crab, and Weddell seals, Snowy and Wilson's petrels. Sea ice. We did not call at Elephant Island.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

South Georgia III:
Gold Harbour / Cooper Bay / Drygalski Fjord

11 January
Gold Harbour Zodiac cruise (5:00 am) and landing (7:30 am)

It was rainy on the Zodiac but quite pleasant once we landed. Fine plain with glacier above and very large King Penguin colony. The best of the elephant seals and harems. Most Antarctic birds. Gold Harbour is named for the color of the landscape in the morning and evening; the Bertrab Glacier looms over it.

Cooper Bay Zodiac cruise (1:00 pm)

Macaroni penguins. Wind caves, high cliffs, kelps and algaes, most Antarctic birds. Chinstrap colonies with random Gentoos. The South Georgian Pipit. Light-manteled Sooty Albatross. Cooper Bay is on the main South Georgia Island just across from Cooper Island, and off the mile-wide Cooper Sound.

Drygalski Fjord ship cruise (3:00–4:30 pm)

Drygalski Fjord lies at the end of South Georgia Island.We cruised leisurely to the end and then left South Georgia after three fine days

Almost immediately, late that afternoon, we spotted a very large Southern Right Whale with fine encrustations, and ended up chasing it about for quite some time. Note especially the fine shots of the baleen.

Friday, January 10, 2014

South Georgia II: Prion Island / Grytviken

10 January
Prion Island landing (7:30 am)

Prion Island, first charted in 1912-13 by an American naturalist, is now a wildlife preserve owing to its rat-free status. Our ship was granted exceptional permission to call there, owing to the albatross nesting; also fur seals at all stages of life.

Grytviken landing (3:30 pm)
hike to Maiviken

Our visit to the Norwegian whaling town of Grytviken began at the Whaler's Cemetery and Shackleton's gravesite. Elephant seals in abundance; the South Georgia Museum (souvenirs and postcards mailed). Hikers walked across the top to Maiviken, where the ship called at sunset to pick them up. Active snow had slacked off about the time we landed.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

South Georgia I: Salisbury Plain / Fortuna Bay

78 January
at sea, Falklands to South Georgia

We then spent three days exploring the island (see map).

9 January
Salisbury Plain landing (10:30 am)

Salisbury Plain, a glacial moraine, is home to a large colony of King Penguins, along with elephant and fur seals: harems and pups. The young Kings were in various stages of moulting. We also saw giant petrels up close. The scale is all but impossible to describe.  

Whistle Cove, Fortuna Bay landing (about 5:30 pm)
Shackleton's Walk

Fortuna Bay is a South Georgian fjord named for the Fortuna, a whaling vessel. There is a King Penguin colony and, at Whistle Cove, a point at the climax, 1916, of the epic journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Some of those heartier than us tenderfeet left the boat early, took a portion of Shackleton's Walk, leaving from Whistle Cove and walking over the mountain to Stromness. We (the ship) went around the point and picked them up there.

See the map of Shackleton's Endurance journey.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Falkland Islands

We spent most of 5 January crossing very high seas: 10 meters (30 feet); the bridge of the Austral
is open, so we could watch some of the action from there. Additionally, there was excellent bird watching from the back of the ship.

Sunday, January 5
New Island, Falklands
landing, about 8:00 pm

New Island has a history that extends back to the 1770s and is now mostly a wildlife refuge. Rockhopper penguins, imperial shags, nesting black-browed albatross.

Monday, January 6
Grave Cove landing, about 9:30 am

A breathtaking plain, with thousand+ pairs of breeding Gentoo penguins, some Magellanic penguins, many caracara birds patrolling for eggs, geese, and in the surf beyond, Commerson's dolphins.

In the afternoon, a landowner Lady came to tell us about sheep farming on West Falkland Island.We were scheduled for landing at Saunders and alternativley Settlement Cove / Port Egmont  (1776), but both were cancelled--after the expedition team treid it--owing to the continuing high wind/surf, and we sailed for South Geogria

On the evening of the 6th, we enjoyed the captain's reception and dinner. (It later turned out that Patrick Marchesseau, the captain, had been hero of a Somali pirate incident: see International Herald Tribune / New York Times, 15 April 2008.)

Saturday, January 4, 2014


We flew at 6:30 AM from the downtown airport in Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, on board a cramped charter plane, where we met the other 197 members of our party.

A bus took us from the airport to town, where we sent postcards (and got eyedrops at a pharmacy, in Spanish), then over Route 3 (Pan-American highway) to a traditional lamb-roast in one of the winter resorts (where they also raise sled dogs). Then a tour of the Tierra del Fuego National Park before boarding our ship, the M. S. Austral. We sailed at about 6:30 PM and were still in the historic Beagle Channel at nightfall.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Buenos Aires

We went from Davis to Buenos Aires on New Year's Day and arrived in Argentina on January 2, still a holiday there. Buenos Aires was still decorated for Christmas.

We stayed at a very nice hotel, the Emperador. We ventured out after lunch: the Avenue 9 de Julio, Teatro Colón from outside, first lunch/coffee order in Spanish, Calle Florida (famous shopping street) and Galerias Pacifico with holiday decorations, Plaza San Martin. Mastered subway. Fine traditional Argentinian dinner at La Brigada, recommended to us by Christian Baldini.

On January 3, we visited Plaza Francese and La Recoleta Cemetery (Eva Perón mausoleum), met Miguel Galperin for a great tour of Teatro Colón, and eventually had a last meal of steak and fries back in the Calle Florida.

About Me

My photo
D. Kern Holoman is musicologist and conductor, retired from the University of California, Davis.