Saturday, February 20, 2010
Antarctica Cruise Day 8 Hannah Point & Deception Island
Sunny morning. We arrived at Hannah Point on Livingston Island farther north in the South Shetland Islands. The crane for launching the zodiacs broke, so they used the older, slower one. I was expecting "yet another penguin rookery," but this is a great spot. I am glad they saved it for our last day. There are at least 40 elephant seals - huge, various shades of color from cream to reddish brown to darker brown and bluish. The males come south to molt both fur and skin; the females remain north. They don't enter the sea or eat until done molting in five to six weeks. They lie around and make gross noises and emit gross smells; must be teenagers Two fur seal were play fighting on a low ridge near our landing. Chinstrap and gentoo penguins nest here and blue-eyed shags also. There are two pairs of macaroni penguins; they only ones we have seen on the trip. We hiked the step above the beach about a half mile west to a spot where there is an impromptu outdoor collection of fossils - all plants that I saw. We stayed away from all the elephant seals except one on our path. Just as I passed him he headed for the beach. The woman behind me got shouted at, because instead of getting out of the way she picked up her camera and stayed put - risky! Deception Island - Whaler's Cove. This island is the top of a volcano and is the perfect harbor because it is a circle with one opening. It made the perfect shore station for whalers one hundred years ago. There are several relics of their activity - old rusting huge tanks, derelict buildings, smaller industrial tanks and tubes. Derelict hangar next to the former landing strip. It was buried by several feet of volcanic cinders by eruptions in 1967 and 1969. There was a scientific station until that second eruption. I noticed the cinders on the glaciers on the north side of the island as we approached. A dozen brave people wore their swimsuits and went in the water. Surprise, right at the water's edge volcanic activity warms the sand. So they dig a hole so the sea water can be warmed and it's not bad. I was intending to join the group, but yesterday they showed us photos of people in their swimsuits freezing while they madly dig for warmth "and some don't find it." I was ready for a sure thing, not maybe. But Gini and daughter Margaret did join in. Not much wildlife here. Three pairs of gentoos. People who hiked to The Window to the east saw fur seals and elephant seals. I think some saw some kind of whales offshore also. I noticed Wilson's storm petrels which fly like swallows. The photos are by Corinthian II staff: Elephant seals. Two fine young men made this cruise a lot more interesting, Sam, age 14, and Luke, age 10. Other brave souls in the hot/cold water. Last pic: Nancy from Seattle, daughter Margaret and wife Gini. Click to enlarge.