Wednesday, February 15, 2012

South America and Antarctica 16 - Icebergs and Penguins

The next day found us sailing into what is called the Weddell Sea, which is located behind and to the south of the Antarctica peninsula.

We had sailed past some huge icebergs the previous day.  But now they were all around us. It has been estimated that that there are approximately 300,000 icebergs in the Southern Ocean at any one time.

As we neared Dundee Island, the ship stopped and we were allowed to experience our first off-ship outing.

We boarded 10 passenger Zodiac boats from the rear deck of Le Boreal...

...cruised off into the ice filled water...

...until we were up close and personal with these icy monsters.  

Notice how blue the ice is.  The intense blue color has not been enhanced.  It really looked like this.  The dark speck you see against the white above is a bird flying in front of the large slab of ice.

Then word came over the radio that a couple of Emperor penguins had been spotted on a nearby ice flow.  Emperor penguins don't normally inhabit this area.  We raced over and found this guy enjoying some down time.

This one came over to check out the strange red-backed penguins that had just floated up to the edge of the ice near him.

Off in the distance, we spotted a group of Adelie penguins sharing the ice flow with their Emperor brothers.

A few of them ventured closer to us.  As you can see, some of them continued checking us out while a couple others relaxed and appeared to wait to see what we would do.

Then we heard that some seals had been spotted.

We learned that seals do most of their feeding (of penguins) at night and then spend their days resting on the ice flows.  This guy rolled over on his back for me.

Cloud cover came and went that day.  I grabbed this shot of our ship during a sunny period.  If anyone is seriously considering heading off to Antarctica, we strongly recommend that you consider doing so on this ship.  More about that later.

Melony took this shot with the Coolpix of me enjoying my lucky placement on the bow of our Zodiac.  That choice position allowed me to get some great penguin shots that you'll see on the next post.  We are all bundled up but it really wasn't that cold.  Thirty degrees or so--merely a balmy winter day in Chicago.

Continue on to Post 17: More Penguins, by clicking here.


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