Thursday, June 21, 2012

South America and Antarctica 23 - Torgersen Island

Torgersen Island, is a small rocky island near Palmer Station, one of the three U.S. research stations maned all year round. Here we saw actual proof, if anyone needs it, of the reality of global warming.

Home to 10,000 pairs of nesting Adelie Penguins thirty years ago, it is now home to only 2,000 pairs of nesting penguins.

Scientists at Palmer Station have documented a rise in temperature here of one degree centigrade each decade for the last 4 decades.

This doesn't sound like much but it has been enough to significantly change the weather patterns.

Warmer temperatures mean that precipitation now more often takes the form of rain instead of snow during the summer nesting season.

All of the extra rain that now falls literally drowns the penguin eggs in their nests.

Here you can see the penguin trails that lead down to the sea from nesting areas high above.

After an hour and a half or so of touring icebergs and the small island, we headed back to the ship.

The young woman who is smiling as we come into dock with the ship is a crew member, which explains why she doesn't have on a red jacket. She worked in the spa area giving messages. She was kept busy during our cruise.

I went up to the buffet area for a snack at the aft of deck 6 after our Zodiac tour and found the captain dressed up in a Santa suit.

By then it was raining with temps barely above freezing, but the entire crew was assembled in the pool area to be photographed for the ships annual Christmas card. The gals in the bikinis were the reindeer pulling a Zodiac as sleigh in the pool holding Santa, (the captain) and his scantily clad elves.

Then the officers posed with the captain for a shot of their own. The crew was French. If it had been American, the sexual harassment folks would have been out in force. But, this crew all thought it was fun. I asked one of the g-string clad officers whose idea it was to use this theme for the ship's Christmas card and he said it was another crew member.

Apparently, the idea started out as a joke but then gained enough traction that they got a by in from everyone. Here's a shot from the top deck looking down as the last of the officers head off to warmer environs.

After the official pictures were taken and the area was returning to normal, the penguin mascot gave her sign of approval.

Continue on to Post 24: Palmer Station, by clicking here.


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