Three Antarctic Islands at one day!
It is the penultimate day in the Antarctic during my expedition cruise on the Sea Spirit.(Zum deutschen Blog.) Today we´ll visit cierva Cove, Mikkelsen Harbour and Spert Island.
Today again a longer Zodiac ride is on the program. It will take place in Cierva Cove. When I open the curtains in the cabin, we are still on the way. The ship does not go fast because there are lots of icebergs and drift ice.
is a vast bay located on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. In this bay we`ll go with the Zodiacs. There is hardly any movement on the water. So these are best conditions to enjoy a calm ride with the Zodiac.
That means, however, some layers of clothes. Ski underwear, ski pants, fleece shirt, water resistant trousers, the thick rubber boots that everyone has borrowed and of course the really warm jacket, which every guest received right after boarding the vessel and can be taken back home. Above that comes the rescue vest. In addition, thin gloves to operate the camera and waterproof, thick mittens, which are useful for holding on the Zodiac, when it goes faster and foam sprays. I also bring along a water-tight little bag, in order to keep my camera in it if necessary. (Packing is sufficient for 10 nights aboard an expedition cruise ship
The Zodiac ride
I am curious what is underneath the ice, so I often put my GoPro into the water. We drive very slowly through the pack ice, which closes quickly behind our Zodiac. There is a strong current in the water, even if we do not notice that here in the boat. In the distance we again see one of the many Argentinian stations. This is called Primavera and is in operation now and then.
The huge bay is surrounded by impressive glaciers. Many huge icebergs are piling up in front of it. They come from the glaciers, which always recur. One of these icebergs looks quite different from the others. Not so bizzar shaped, but rounded and quite evenly shaped.
Heidi, the French glaciologist, is entirely in her element. Since not all guests have left the ship, she got a Zodiac all to herself. She drives her Zodiac side by side to ours and holds on to our boat, so she can´t drift away; her legs dangling over the water.
She tells us that this rounded iceberg has already turned over in the water. In other words, we see its base, which otherwise lies in the water and that is evenly shaped from the flow and the waves. What a wave must that have been, because the iceberg is still huge! She also tells us that only one to three tenths of an iceberg is visible at all, the rest is always below the surface of the water.
It is nice to experience this silence as Christian, our guide, stops the engine and the Zodiac simply drifts. Unfortunately this tour is over too fast, two hours can pass very quickly within this impressive and unique landscape.
In the afternoon, we land in Mikkelsen Harbor, which many years ago served as a landing place for the factory ships of the whalers. Not far from a shelter is our disembarking site. Thus the penguins also seem to like.
Many have built their nest in the shelter of the hut, there the earth is softened and dirty from the mud and stinking droppings of the animals. This doesn´t impress them at all, some even seem to look at their reflection in a puddle.
Again we stroll along the suspended flags through the soft snow. Again and again we have to stop, because some penguin highways cross our way and of course the waddling companions have the priority.
We also see a radio pole and some remains of the whalers in form of a broken boat, which is almost completely buried under the snow masses, as well as huge wale bones, which also protrude only very little from the snow.
All this does not seem to disturb the breeding penguins, nor some lazy sea elephants. Our time is over and a zodiac shuttle takes us back to Sea Spirit. Sea air makes me hungry; I’m already looking forward to our dinner, and especially to get rid of all the layers of thick clothing.
But dinner got to wait. Our expedition crew has planned a third visit for us today. They would like to make a Zodiac cruise with us through the partially sunken Spert Island. Yes, no writing mistake, I mean through!
It´s an excursion that doesn´t happen too often at the Antarctic Peninsula, as the weather conditions must be perfect. Very few to none wind at all and no floating ice, so there are basically no waves that could throw a Zodiac on the razor sharp rocks.
So all of us dress warmly, as this cruise will last about two hours. The captain of the Sea Spirit stops our vessel quite a bit away from the sunken island. I suppose because the water might be too shallow for the ship. So we climb into the Zodiacs and off we go!
High peaks of rocks await us and we cruise through channels and caves of Spert Island. It is a volcanic island. The softer rocks are washed out by the wind, the sea water and ice. And all what is left over are these rock needles and huge caves. There are still some ice bergs drifting around, so our expedition team really needs to navigate through them and sometimes turn around, because there is no way through.
The cruise ends with us viewing a lot of birds flying over a carcass of a seal floating in the water. They dive down very fast and grab their share. Today they and their chicks won´t starve.
What an end for this exciting day?! I am really hungry now and it´s the first time that I am freezing here in Antarctica. I am looking forward to my hot shower and a hearty dinner…
What are we going to do tomorrow, on our last day in Antarctica? If you like to know more, I would be happy if you visit my blog again. All the news and more pictures can be found on my Facebook site below and on Instagram. I am happy if you press the “like” button there. 😄