This morning we really didn’t know where we were going to go to. It was an “expedition” morning as we were on standby and then all of a sudden we needed to be on the gangway to load the zodiacs. Since many of our landing sites were small, we had to do a split landing where half of the boat that wasn’t climbing mountains or kayaking went and hiked to a peak on Booth Island in Port Charcot and the other half did a zodiac cruise around the bay. I went on land first since I didn’t really want to get stuck waiting for a zodiac at the end of the landing like I did a few days ago. Climbing up there were some adelie penguins and chin straps that everyone flocked to. Gento penguins are everywhere and when you can see something a little different we all just kneel down and just observe. One thing about penguins though, they poop everywhere and it stinks! The backside of the bay was all iced in but it was so pretty just sitting there watching it collide with each other and sometimes waking the seals that were trying to sleep there.
After our pretty easy snowshoeing hike Amanda and I got onto one of the best boats (Christoph) for our zodiac cruise. He is from France and was telling us all about Captain Charcot and how he was one of the first to actually winter Antarctica without actually coming here specifically to do that. I really liked learning a bit more about the area compared to other zodiac drivers that just go around in circles only looking for seals. We did find some amazing seals on an iceberg right in front of our zodiac and as we circled twice, one out of the three seals started really interacting with our boat and waving. I got some of the coolest photos with this Crabeater seal. He was so curious and just kept rotating his body to keep flapping his little flipper at us while peaking over the ice. We also got some really cool views of some of the ice bergs that were in the bay. It really was a maze trying to get to some of them since the fast and slow moving ice were colliding and building up at some points.
In the afternoon we headed off to Dorean Bay which is right on the other side of the mountain of Port Lockroy. There was a 1.5 hour snow shoeing hike there or you could just wander on your own exploring and taking photos. I chose to go explore and take photos of the Wedell and Elephant seal that were lying on the snow and rocks. It really is entertaining to just sit down and see what the wildlife is doing all around you. I had penguins start coming right at me falling on their faces, sliding all around. The seal calling out to others and just listening to all of the sounds it makes is very interesting. It is pretty high pitched but also sounds like a song!
We are also tired every day. Even though we are sleeping about 8 hours every night, every morning at 7am wakeup and 7:30 breakfast we all look so drained. I feel right now that I could seep for about a whole day just to catch up. It’s not just me so that makes me happy. All of our eyes hurt and we all just want to take naps but there is no time in the day for it.
This evening at dinner we found out we were going to Port Lockroy and the 4 ladies that live there came on board to tell us more about what they do at the station. These 4 ladies run the museum and gift shop along with monitoring the penguins and their chicks once they hatch. They are doing a study to see if human interaction interferes with the penguins nesting and having little chicks – so far they have not found any issues with the penguins interacting with the humans. The boats that come down here invite many of them onboard to eat and take showers on the boats since they live in pretty tight quarters.