Journey to Antarctica: The Lemaire Channel, Booth Island, & The Penola Strait

The Land of Ice: Antarctica is more than a White Continent. The light waves reflected and absorbed by the ice and water create magnificent images for the photographers on our trip. (PHOTO CREDIT: Miriam Sutton)

My second White Christmas occurred much farther south than the one I experienced in 1989, when most of the east coast of North Carolina was buried in 1.5 feet of snow. The scenery through the Lemaire Channel this morning was astounding as the Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic Explorer began pushing through brash ice, transiting toward the most southern point for this expedition. The Lemaire Channel and Petermann Island were discovered by Eduard Dallmann during a German expedition in 1873 aboard the “Gronland,” the first steamship to reach Antarctica.

Christmas Day Dive: Santa joined the Deep Sea Specialist for a Christmas Dive near Booth Island. (PHOTO CREDIT: Miriam Sutton)

While my fellow GTF teachers headed out on the zodiacs for a tour of the Adelie Colony on Booth Island, I gathered with Lindblad Expedition/National Geographic’s Deep Sea Specialists and ventured out for some bubble watching during their the Christmas Dive. One of the divers sported a Santa Claus hat and beard before entering the chilly water. His apparel provided excellent fanfare for the day’s festivities. I captured some of their dive with my GoPro and followed their bubbles around the dive site. (See image: Christmas Day Dive.)






We returned to the ship for a warm lunch and continued sailing southward and deeper into the Antarctic Peninsula. Tabular icebergs began to appear and larger ice flows appeared from every angle beyond the ship. The captain slowed our transport and began steering the ship to starboard. An announcement over the ship’s PA system confirmed our southernmost location for this expedition: 65º4.4 South. The staff invited us to celebrate today’s voyage with a toast to the Antarctic explorers who traveled a century ago to this vast unknown continent. We raised our glasses as our expedition leader offered a tribute to Roald Amundsen, Robert Scott, and Sir Ernest Shackleton:

“For scientific discovery, give me Scott;
For speed and efficiency of travel, give me Amundsen;
but, when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”

Today’s Daily Program Quote:
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before? What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
— Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Today’s Sunlight Data:
Sunrise: 0214
Sunset: 0023

The journey continues here: “Neko Harbour and Dorian Bay”