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Ushuaia-Antarctica-New Zealand

Part 4 of 4: Scott Island – Macquarie Island

Map to trip log: Scott Island - Macquarie Island

Get­ting through the drift ice of the nor­t­hern Ross Ice on the way out again was a much quicker affair than on the way in. On hind­sight, ever­y­thing is easier. The ice charts that we had pro­ved to be ama­zin­gly mis­lea­ding, we found up to 50 % ice whe­re it should have been clear on the way south. But any­way, that is a mat­ter of histo­ry at this time.

In the evening of 09 Febru­ary, we pas­sed tiny Scott Island, but the­re was not the sligh­test thought of going ashore in the kind of wea­ther that we had. From then on, the days across the Sou­thern Oce­an brought main­ly an impres­si­on of the vast distances and the wild wea­ther of tho­se lati­tu­des. We had winds around force 6-7 on the Beau­fort sca­le for days on end, which is not too extre­me, but it was enough for most of us over time. And yes, it did go up to force 11-12 occa­sio­nal­ly.

Once we had rea­ched Mac­qua­rie Island, initi­al­ly it see­med as if the wea­ther wan­ted to make our lives dif­fi­cult also the­re, but we were lucky and mana­ged 3 excur­si­ons, inclu­ding 2 landings and 1 zodiac crui­se. That is ever­y­thing that is legal­ly pos­si­ble. Good stuff!

Mac­qua­rie Island is the equi­va­lent of South Geor­gia on this side of Ant­ar­c­ti­ca. Smal­ler, less moun­tai­neous and not gla­cia­ted, the green and gras­sy slo­pes appear to tho­se who are just coming up from the Ross Sea as a tro­pi­cal rain forest. And the wild­life remin­ded very much of South Geor­gia, this sub­ant­ar­c­tic ver­si­on of Dr. Doolittle’s not at all so litt­le zoo. Ele­phant Seals, King pen­gu­ins in very sub­stan­ti­al num­bers, the asso­cia­ted spe­ci­es ran­ge of sea­birds inclu­ding Giant pet­rels, Sku­as and so on … and of cour­se the ende­mic Roy­al pen­gu­in ☺ We had amp­le time to spend with the­se ama­zing crea­tures in San­dy Bay, even in suns­hi­ne! And com­pared to McMur­do Base, the crew of the Aus­tra­li­an sta­ti­on was real­ly fri­end­ly.

Sin­ce 1997, Mac­qua­rie Island is, by the way, an UNESCO world heri­ta­ge site. And the reason for this is actual­ly not the wild­life, but the uni­que geo­lo­gy. Most ocea­nic islands are tops of sub­ma­ri­ne vol­ca­noes. „Mac­ca“ is, howe­ver, a pie­ce of ocea­nice crust that was pushed upwards due to tec­to­nic forces. The chan­ce to put your hand on ocea­nic crust that is part of an acti­ve pla­te and not some fos­sil stuff is uni­que on a glo­bal sca­le. It is, howe­ver, some­thing that does not catch the eye rea­di­ly unless you are a spe­cia­list. What you do see are pil­low lavas, which is the shape that basal­tic lava often has when pou­red out under water. This is, howe­ver, some­thing you might find in any vol­ca­nic envi­ron­ment influen­ced by water.

Scott Island – Mac­qua­rie Island (gal­lery)

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

To the gal­lery:
The Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la    Peter I Island and the Amund­sen Sea    The Ross Sea    Scott Island – Mac­qua­rie Island


last modification: 2014-03-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange