Journey to Antarctica: Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island, & the Errera Channel

“Chinstrap Views” Chinstrap penguins complete a 1000 feet vertical waddle between the sea and the rookery every few days during nesting season. A magnificent view rewards their hard work. (PHOTO CREDIT: Miriam Sutton)


Another challenging hike provided us with majestic views of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains, including Mt. Francais on Anvers Island (elevation: 9160 ft., the highest point along the peninsula). The naturalists advised us that a penguin colony could be observed along the right flank of the ridge but I found solace as I sat quietly along the overlook near Spigot Peak to absorb the sights, smells, and sounds of Orne Harbour. (See Image: Chinstrap Views) I eventually hiked over to the Chinstrap rookery and watched the parents tending their eggs and nests. We were amused and fascinated by the physical efforts these flightless birds exhibit as they descend to feed in the sea and return along the steep terrain to their nests every few days. Many of us adopted their sliding behaviors when it was time for our return to the ship but we were careful be stop before hitting the icy waters below. (See Video: Luge)

Today’s afternoon adventure took place in kayaks and provided us with a unique view of the ice bergs and floes that make Antarctica so remarkable. The colors and sounds of the ice seemed even more magnified than what we observed from the ship. (See image below.) I plunged my GoPro into the water to capture a few views from beneath the ice. I thought about the awesomeness of paddling through the crystal clear water on a Stand-Up Paddleboard but felt content to be exploring the ice from the seat of a kayak.

As the bergy bits melt, their center of mass changes and they roll and tumble. Nutrients released from the meltwater generates the growth of phytoplankton, which often creates a greenish hue around the ice beneath the surface. (PHOTO CREDIT: Miriam Sutton)


Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic provided another surprise for us when we returned to the ship: A Christmas Eve Penguin Plunge!! I was ecstatic. As co-founder of Carteret County’s Penguin Plunge, I felt compelled to participate in a genuine plunge in Antarctica. With Go Pro in hand, the GTF teachers and I jumped together. We were enveloped in 33ºF water and exhilarated by the opportunity for such a unique experience. (See Video 3 – Antarctic Penguin Plunge)

Today’s Daily Program Quote:
“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Today’s Sunlight Data:
Sunrise: 0215
Sunset: 2352

The journey continues here: “The Lemaire Channel, Booth Island, & The Penola Strait”