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Antarctica 2010 - Day 8

Saturday, January 30, 2010 13:35

Today we visit Dorian Bay and Port Lockroy which are located in the Neumayer Channel. We arrived this morning to a more overcast and colder day although still very calm. This gives the location a more eerie and mysterious feel. Antarctica showing another side of itself.


The plan today is for zodiacs to visit Dorian Bay which is a small natural harbour. It is a large area dotted with groups of Gentoo penguins nesting at various locations and gives everyone a good chance to stretch the legs. There is plenty of place to stroll off by yourself and get some personal time with your very own nest site.


The general consensus seems to be that this has been the best zodiac landing yet.


Meanwhile the kayakers were away early heading further out into the Neumayer Channel. The channel itself is very wide with plenty of floating and grounded iceberg scattered around. There is also a lot of brash ice around which is basically smaller pieces of ice which make for some negotiating with the kayaks.


We had a lot of penguins passing us throughout the trip, porpoising through the water on their way back to the nesting grounds after being at sea to feed. It's a great sight to see.

Making our way out further into the channel we started to hear the sound of whales blowing and in the distance spotted a group of Minke whale but they were heading further south away from us.


We continued along the channel for a while taking in the scenery before deciding it was time to head back. Just as we started back a Minke surfaced about 10 metres from us and continued on right by us. It was great end to our kayaking trip.

Back on the ship we had lunch and again were then treated to another group of four Minke whales feeding around the ship.

They stayed at the ship for about an hour so a lot of photo cards got filled up!!


One of the four staff from Port Lockroy came to the ship to tell us more about it so here is a bit of history! Originally it was discovered by French explorer Jean Charcot in 1904, during the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05. A base was established in 1944 by an whalers also used the site between 1911-31 and other expeditions visited between 1912-1935. Some time around 1945 it became a base camp for a British expedition team to Grahamland (what the peninsula was called back then). It had various uses through the years but went into disrepair for some time and then the penguins moved in! The British government then decided to invest in renovating the base and it now operates as a museum, post office and shop catering to the different ships that visit.


They have retained all the original fittings and fixtures and even original tins of food etc. so you get a real feel for what it was like to live there then. You can also send cards from here too and plenty were being written today!


So for the afternoon we were off again. Some landed at nearby Jougla Point which has a Gentoo Penguin colony, Blue Eyed Cormorants and some huge whale bones from whaling times. The others went to Port Lockroy and then swapped around later on.


It was back again to the ship and some time to relax before our surprise dinner! At 7pm we got the call to make our way to the dining room, then continue to the rear deck of the ship!. We arrived out on deck to a full blown bbq. Before long we were all tucking into great food with some absolutely beautiful backgrounds of mountains and ice. BBQ in Antarctica...now there's something you wouldn't expect.


So it's party time. Signing off for today.



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