Thursday, June 21, 2012

South America and Antarctica 21 - Cuverville Island

Weather in Antarctica changed from minute to minute.

I snapped this frame of snow blowing off the top of an island from our balcony window as we sailed. Our expedition leader encouraged us to keep looking out the windows. "You can sleep when you get home," he admonished. That was easier said than done. Especially down here in the summertime, where it is daylight for nearly 23 hours a day.

I wandered up on the top deck that afternoon as the Zodiacs were lowered into the water.

As you can see, the Zodiacs are quickly and easily lowered over the side from the top deck.

When the Zodiac reaches the second deck, the driver steps aboard. Once in the water, the driver releases the sling and drives away. They told me all 12 Zodiacs can be lowered into the water in about 20 minutes.

Just as our group was about to board the Zodiacs, a small iceberg floated right up to our landing platform. Two Zodiac drivers, Chris in the yellow jacket and Jennifer in the red, creatively moved it out of the way. It took both 65hp engines at full throttle to move the thing. Even bergs that small carry a lot of mass.

In short order we were on our way from the ship to Cuverville Island.

Before landing, we, like the boat above, took a slight detour around some of the ice flows in area.

Cuvervill Island is home to the nesting grounds of a group of Gentoo Penguins. There were not nearly as many Gentoos on this island as there were Adelie Penguins on Paulet Island.

The Adelies were identifiable by the round white circle around their eyes. The Gentoos have a white patch over the top of their eyes and an orange spot on their bills.

They navigated the rough rocky beach with relative ease as they made their way from the nesting areas down to the ocean.

Here, too, they were completely unafraid of us.

Though they did occasionally look upon us with a degree of curiosity. The crew thoughtfully created a new path in the snow for the "Orange Backed Penguins". This was done to keep us off the existing Gentoo path.

But this little guy decided he liked our path better, and was waiting for the big Orange Backed Penguin to move so he could proceed. She eventually stepped aside and he went on his way--on our path. They are so cute.

When the snow gets too deep for them to walk, they plop down on their bellies and slide.

Here' a video that shows a typical process of a penguin navigating deep snow.

 Continue on to Post 22: More Cuverville Island, by clicking here


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