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Crys­tal Sound

The well-known sounds and islands of the cen­tral Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la, whe­re we almost always know a shel­te­red place some­whe­re behind a cor­ner, is now behind us, and we are hea­ding into the more unknown. Well, not real­ly unknown, but much less of a well-trod­den path than we have been on so far. More dif­fi­cult ter­rain at the same time: more open, less shel­te­red, more ice, no small bays giving pro­tec­tion, lon­ger distances.

It beca­me clear quite ear­ly on that the Fish Islands didn’t want us. At least ear­ly enough so we did not have to set the alarm clocks for 4 a.m. A second attempt during the later mor­ning came to an end once we had rea­ched a mas­si­ve array of huge ice­bergs, guar­ding the Fish Iclands like giant ice demons. They cle­ar­ly did not have any inten­ti­on of let­ting us through, so we snea­k­ed out again to try our luck else­whe­re. The Fish Islands are just a num­ber of small sker­ries, just big enough to sup­port a popu­la­ti­on of Adé­lie pen­gu­ins and Blue-eyed shags. We would find ano­ther inte­res­t­ing spot for us else­whe­re.

Detail­le Island was to be the next desti­na­ti­on, but first of all we had to cross the magi­cal line that sepa­ra­tes high lati­tu­des from even hig­her lati­tu­des: the south polar cir­cle. You can cross its nor­t­hern equi­va­lent con­ve­ni­ent­ly by train, bicy­cle, car or bus, or in a pla­ne, wit­hout get­ting to know about it. Here in the south, the club of tho­se who have crossed the line is far more exclu­si­ve. That was cle­ar­ly some­thing that had to be cele­bra­ted duly, and our fearless lea­der Don had very distinc­ti­ve ide­as of how this was to be done. May­be an old ritu­al from New Zea­land? Who knows. Any­way, some of us loo­ked like Mao­ri chiefs after having com­ple­ted the pro­ce­du­res duly. Well, almost.


Again, natu­re had set her migh­ty ice guar­di­ans bet­ween us and the pro­mi­sed land. Not as gigan­tic as ear­lier today, but more than enough ice­bergs, ber­gy bits and sea ice floes to keep us from rea­ching Detail­le Island and its his­to­ri­cal hut. So we went into the Zodiacs and out into the ice and enjoy­ed it great­ly. Blue colours of all shades, bizar­re shapes, Cra­bea­ter seals res­t­ing on ice. A fine fare­well to the Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la. Then, we went out into the Bel­lings­hau­sen Sea, hea­ding for Peter I Island.

last modification: 2015-01-17 · copyright: Rolf Stange