Category Archives: antarctica

icebergs

After leaving the the dreaded Drake Passage behind us, we had landed in the icy world of the Weddell Sea overnight.
At 06.00 we were awakened by our expedition leader, who apologized for waking us up, but he could imagine that many of us wanted to take pictures outside on deck. I opened our curtains, gobbled for 1 second at the phenomenal view outside our small window and got dressed within a record time of 2 minutes, complete with warm parka and boots, camera strapped around my neck, finding myself outside on deck, witnessing this scene glide by.
What attracts me so much to  Antarctica is the silence caused by the absence of human habitation and the beautiful richness of subtle colors. Perhaps you think of white when you think of Antarctica: white ice and white snow. But the sky of this continent is often full of beautiful pastels: yellow, pink, all shades of blue and gray and white. And then there are these different types of ice: glacier types of ice, old ice, new ice, blue ice.

views from the ship

sailing through the beagle channel

Leaving Ushuaia this was our view from the ship while sailing through the Beagle Channel, heading for Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. The snowcapped mountains in the background are the foothills of the Andes.

Landed in the icy Weddell Sea.

Parked in the ice. Our view from one side of the ship.

Parked in the ice. Our view from the other side of the ship.

The cracks in the sea ice.

breaking ice

pulling the the kapitan khlebnikov 02

It’s me, pulling and pushing the Kapitan Khlebnikov.
Even a tough icebreaker like the Khlebnikov can get stuck in the icy Weddell Sea. When that happens, everyone participating in the expedition must help out. This is me, taking my turn in pulling the rope 😉

pulling the the kapitan khlebnikov 01

pushing the the kapitan khlebnikov

culinary pleasures on board

You would think making a expedition style journey to one of the remotest places on earth would be basic, but we cruised the Antarctics in 5 star comfort. A French ship, with French cooks, two gorgeous restaurants, fine dining twice a day every day. Yes, life really sucks 😉

other birdies

Besides penguins there were lots of other birds in Antarctica. Here’s a summery of some other birdies we came across. The first one is a tern obviously, but the Antarctic species (Antarctische stern).

This was a beautiful one, called snow petrel (Sneeuwstormvogel). The only time I got to see one was from the ship, during a snow storm.

Gulls of course, but I really don’t know what kind…

Skua or giant skua, I forgot (Jager of Grote jager)

And this last guy is a Petrel (stormvogel, uit de orde van buissnaveligen), which I found the least attractive bird over there.

chinstraps (2)

The chinstrap lying down on a stone in colony finally got up and stretched.

Eating snow, perhaps to get some water?

The rocks in the rookeries are very steep and slippery.

Black and white conversions.

chinstraps (1)

The last landing we made was on Half Moon Island, breeding ground to many chinstrap penguins.
Wow, what a stunning last landing this was. Lots of beautiful chinstraps and a lot of snow.

Courting behavior.

landscapes

Stunning sceneries while sailing from Deception Island to Half Moon Island.

I took this photo because I was attracted to the red color of the rocks. It was not until I was at home, looking at it on a large screen, I noticed there were people in red coats looking at a penguin colony on the right side of the mountain.

 

 

The last photo is an iPhone shot of Half Moon Island, our very last landing.

esperanza

The only time we actually set foot on the Antarctic mainland was at Esperanza Research Station, which is in fact an Argentian claim of a piece of the cake. I did not care to have a look inside the buildings, so I asked one of the members of our expedition team if I could make some photos of the gentoo penguins around the settlement instead. He said he did not want to go inside either as he had heard the story a dozen times already and together we walked to the gentoo breeding colony.

In the first two photos you see a gentoo male bringing a stone to the nest. In the third they are courting and because the female is standing there’s an egg visible in the nest.

gentoos at whalers bay

Luckily for me there were some Gentoo penguins on the beach of Whalers Bay. It’s difficult to be sad when you see penguins. In the background is our ship.

The last photo is an iPhone shot. It’s incredible what you can do with a smartphone nowadays.