It was, by the way, not a spelling mistake that February 28 came twice in this blog. The date line.
We have now left McMurdo Sound and the Ross Ice Shelf behind us and we have begun the long, long voyage to Peter I Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Early March is late summer in Antarctica, the time when most of the sea ice has disappeared. It is indeed a strong contrast to previous trips in this area. My experience in this region is not unlimited, and I am not sure if it is an exceptional ice year or just the season or a bit of both. Anyway, we do not see a lot of ice at all.
But then we get into some ice. Young pancake ice to start with, surrounding the ship on all sides. Very young, soft ice, fresh ice crystals, recently frozen sea water. But strong enough to support some penguins that are somewhere on this ice.
There are also some older ice floes. On one of them, we find what might be described as an antarctic zoo with no less than five typical animal species: Emperor penguins, Adelie penguins, giant petrels, snow petrels and crabeater seals. Unbelievable! The large number of Snow petrels alone would be stunning, if nothing else. I have never seen some many before in one place. You are so happy if you happen to see a lonely one in the distance on a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, and here they are almost the whole time flying around the ship. Now we have more than a hundred on this ice floes, together with all this other fantastic wildlife.
Gallery – Ice – March 2nd, 2017
Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.
Later, the ice is more open again. The sun is shining, no wind, so it is not a question that we launch the Zodiacs and just enjoy getting close to the ice. The cruise is stunningly beautiful, all the ice, all these colours and shapes. Not to mention the wildlife that we are seeing, as various seals, Adelie- and Emperor penguins. Some describe this zodiac cruise later as one of the true highlights of the trip.