The distances are large also within in the Ross Sea, so we can dedicate the morning to some hours of rest. Nothing wrong about that. But then our hopes and expectations are rising, as we approach the western coast of the Ross Sea again, the Transantarctic Mountains around Terra Nova Bay. We sail past the mighty Cape Washington, home to an Emperor penguin colony in winter. Mount Melbourne is towering in the same section of the panorama, a large, volcanic cone of beautiful symmetry.
Terra Nova Bay is something like the King George Island of the Ross Sea. There is a large number of stations on King George Island in the South Shetlands, everybody has to have his flagg flying there. Over here, there are three stations within a few kilometres. Germans and Coreans can visit each other with just a short walk, whereas Karl and Lee will need a boat for an Italian dinner. But Karl and Luigi have already left and closed their respective places down for the winter, they will only be here during the summer.
After a lot of background communication with authorities and station leaders, we decided to have a closer look at the Italian Mario Zucchelli Base. Just the prospect to step on good, solid antarctic granite was a good one, not to mention those on board who have an Italian connection. Some of them felt immediately at home!
Gallery – Terra Nova Bay – February 24th, 2017
Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.
Mario Zucchelli Base may not be the most scenic place in Antarctica, something it has in common with most stations except some of the older ones, which blend nicely into the landscape. The modern ones are usually collections of container buildings crowned with satellite dishes and surrounded by heavy vehicles and other technology. So we don’t spend too many hours in little Italy, in order to have time for another little landing, namely at the German Gondwana-station. Gondwana is another summer-only based, they have only done maintainance work this summer, but no science. As at Mario Zucchelli base, there is nobody here anymore and the station is ready to face the antarctic winter. The Gondwana is much smaller and the terrain allows lovely views over the surrounding scenery. Some Weddell-seals are hauled out on land near the beach. We enjoy the whole setting for a while, and then it is time to set course for McMurdo Sound.