Archive for the ‘Antarctica’ Category

Antarctica Expedition – Video Slideshow & trip summary

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

It took me almost 6 months but I finally got through all the pictures and video from our trip to Antarctica.  We did take over 10,000 photos and several hours of video.  It takes a while to parse that down into a 9 minute video slideshow.  Enjoy…

Don’t forget to check out the previous posts from our Antarctica Expedition.

Also check out the web galley of the best pics from the trip here.

Packing for Antarctica. What worked. What didn’t.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I did a lot of research on what to pack for this trip since you can’t really run out to the nearest store to pick up something you left at home.  Here are just a few of the links that I found helpful in preparing for the trip.

http://www.top-adventure-tours.com/antarctica-clothing.html

http://www.hillmanwonders.com/antarctica_cruise/antarctica_cruise_pack.htm

http://www.brendansadventures.com/how-to-pack-for-antarctica/

http://www.cheesemans.com/polar/equipment_list.html (The most detailed list I found)

They go over the basics like bring layers, a warm hat, extra batteries, etc.  All good advice which we followed and were very comfortable for our trip.  I won’t go duplicate the good work they did but I will go over a couple of items that we found indispensable.

One of our favorite pieces of gear were our muck boots.  This advice was courtesy of the The Traveling Richters blog.  The Arctic Sport Hi-cut by Muck Boots are the ones I would recommend.  They are very warm, comfortable and are great for hiking around antarctica.  They are pretty big and are difficult to pack but it’s worth finding a way.

Another must have items is a nice pair of clothes.  I had one pair of ice climbing gloves that were supposed to be made to handle cold and wet environments.  They didn’t work well at all and were stuffed back in the bag after the first day.  The best gloves (especially for photographers) are the OR Meteor Mitts.  They come with a removeable fleece liner with flaps that can be pulled down so you fingers are free to work a camera.

Next most important thing is to keep your head and face warm.  The Loki Liner Hat did the trick for us.  The big red parka is the other piece of gear that we grew fond of.  It is supplied by Lindblad is one of the warmest winter jackets we’ve ever worn.  We will be keeping them for quite some time.

Onto the camera gear.  Apologies for bad iphone photo but all my other cameras were all laid out trying to find their way into one camera bag.

Gear list:

  • Canon 5D mark II
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 30D (converted to infrared)
  • Canon G11
  • 24-105 F4
  • 70-200 F4
  • TS-E (tilt shift) 24mm
  • 100-400mm
  • Sigma 10-22
  • 1.4x extender
  • 580 EXII flash with ST-E2 transmitter
  • Remote camera triggers
  • Gitzo 2524 tripod
  • Really Right Stuff ballhead
  • Nikon MONARCH X 10.5×45 Binoculars
  • Nikon MONARCH 10×56 Binoculars
  • Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA backup drives X2
  • Blower, battery charges, cleaning cloths, misc camera stuff
  • All packed into a Gura Gear Kiboko backpack (best camera bag ever)
  • Large Cabela’s Boundary Waters dry bag backpack.  I bought this based on a recommendation from www.hoothollow.com because he used this bag in Antarctica to put his Kiboko in when doing landings on the Zodiac. From my experience, the dry bag is not necessary.  The Kiboko can easily repel whatever little amount of water may get splashed over the side.  The Cabela is a nice bag but its overkill for this trip.

Yes, it all fit… barely.  The Kiboko can really hold a lot of gear.

If I were to go back to Antarctica I would only do a few things different from a camera gear perspective.

1) I would bring a laptop.  Normally, I don’t travel with a laptop because I’d rather enjoy the destination rather than spending time at a computer editing photos.  However, for a trip like this it’s worth it because you can get critics from the photo experts on board.  They also had a photo gallery at the end of the trip were you could show off your work.  Basically, everyone just setup their laptop in the lounge and put their photos in slideshow mode for people to look at.

2) I would bring a Canon 500mm F4 lens.  The 100-400mm lens I brought is a fantastic lens but there were times when the light was low and the wildlife was far off.  The extra 100mm and 1 more stop of light would have helped me a get a few shots I couldn’t have got otherwise.  The 500mm is massive lens but it wouldn’t be to much of a hassle because it would be most useful when shooting from the ship.

3) I would have used my tripod more often for creating panoramas.  I did many hand held panorama shots and a lot of them turned out well but I would have got more keepers if I took the time to setup on a tripod and do a proper pano.

GPS tracks in Antarctica

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I thought it would be pretty cool to record our tracks with a GPS for our trip to Antarctica.  I’ve tried to record GPS tracks before on other trips using my Garmin but it was always battery hog and it was very inconvenient to keep it charged and turned on all the time.  For this trip I thought it would be worth it so I searched for a Garmin map of Antarctica.  After a bit of searching I found there wasn’t one made by garmin but I did find a free one  here http://rwsmaps.griffel.se/ After a couple of hours of messing around trying to get it loaded onto my Garmin I found out that all the Garmin GPS devices don’t support maps above or below 60 degrees.  This rules out Antarctica completely.  The GPS will be able to give you the coordinates but it won’t show on the map.  Pretty stupid design Garmin!!

Then I found this cool little gadget call the “Travel Recorder XT” by Qstar.  It’s a simple little thing that just records your tracks.  No display.  1 on/off switch.  Nothing fancy.  Just records where you’ve been and the battery life is much better than any Garmin GPS.  Of course this one turned out not to be perfect either.  I kept it on most of the trip but didn’t realized until I got home (no display to check if it was working) that it didn’t record very accurately that far south.  The tracks were all over the place.  Didn’t record anything at all in other places.  Really not very usable.

In the end, the pictures of the charts with the route drawn in with a marker proved to be the easiest to use and most accurate way to show where we’ve been.

Chart of our Antarctica voyage

Chart of our Antarctica voyage

I used these to update my travel map at the top of my blog.  Not exactly what I had in mind but when technology fails you can always do things old school with a pen and paper.

Antarctica – 12/27 & 28 – Passing back through the Drake Passage

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Hope you enjoyed the brief break about Antarctica with a couple posts about our long weekend in Tibet. Now back to finishing up the trip report to Antarctica…

NatGeo Explorer crashes through waves

The journey back through the Drake passage was A LOT more exciting this time.  We had some pretty large swells as you can see from the pictures above.  There weren’t nearly as many people walking around the ship for the 2 day trip back to Ushuaia, Argentina.  I guessing a lot of them were in the cabin hugging the toilet ;)

I was doing fine so I spent some more time photographing the sea birds following the ship.

Albatross following the NatGeo explorer

Sea birds following the NatGeo explorer

We then had the pleasure of hearing another talk by Peter Hillary.  This time he talked about the krisis on K2.  I’m surprised he is able to talk about this event because of the tragic nature of the trip.  He was the sole survivor of the group of 8 climbers that tried to summit K2 in 1995.  I’m glad he has the courage to tell this gripping and painful story.

Peter Hillary slide show about the K2 krisis in 1995

We also had some time to chat with Peter and get him to sign a copy of his new book.  In the Ghost Country: A Lifetime Spent on the Edge. I haven’t read it yet (sorry Peter) but I will get to it soon.  I read most books on my Ipad now but one of the problems with that is you can’t really get authors to sign a digital version.

Picture with Peter Hillary

There was also a talk by Ira Block on his assignment to photograph Naomi Uemuera’s solo expedition by dog sled to the North Pole.  Ira is a great speaker and teacher.  I will definitely try to meet up with him again for one of his workshops or maybe even another Lindblad Expedition he is on.

Photo with Ira Block. (all good photographers are bald :)

and then before you know it the port captain from Ushuaia borded our ship to take her into port…

Returning to Ushuaia

Antarctica – 12/26 – Port Lockroy & Cuverville Island

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Penguin in front of Port Lockroy

We visited Port Lockroy in the morning.  Port Lockroy was a British base in Antarctica from 1944 to the mid 60s.  It was then abandoned and fell into disrepair until the British Antarctic Heritage Trust stepped in to restore the base.  It is restored very well and shows how some of the early scientists lived in Antarctica.  It’s only staffed during the summer months.  It’s pretty isolated but the 4 girls on the island get plenty of ships coming in to visit.  They also have a couple thousand penguins and beautiful landscapes to keep them occupied.

Port Lockroy Landscape

It also serves as a post office and has a nice little gift shop.  Yep, there is a even a gift shop in Antarctica where you can buy crappy souvenirs that your wife will save for years.

After Miki mailed her postcard we were off to Cuverville Island.  This island had some amazing landscapes and I went a little crazy with the panoramic shots.

Cuverville Island Panoramic

Cuverville Island Panoramic

We spent most of the time on Cuverville just sitting on the beach watching the penguins coming in and out of the water.  We’ve spent so much of the trip running from one side of an island to the other but just sitting there on the beach was one of the best experiences.  It also provided some of the best chances to photograph even more penguins.

Gentoo Penguin - water beads

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin running out of the water

There was also a large group of male Skuas about that were making a lot of noise.  Lots of fighting, flapping of wings and just general chaos.  The penguins didn’t seem so bothered by this group probably because they focused on showing off to the other skuas rather that eating penguins.

Skua

Miki bought these penguin socks and for the whole trip she kept telling me she wanted to get a photo of her socks next to the penguins.  After realizing she wasn’t joking I got a couple shots for her.

Penguin Socks

This was our last day on the Antarctic continent so we wanted to squeeze every last second we could out of our time on the island.  I was able to get a few last landscapes in before the final Zodiac left.

B&W Cuverville Island Landscape

B&W Cuverville Island Landscape

iceberg landscape

The final panoramic shot was taken with my infrared converted 30D.

Infrared Cuverville Panoramic

Daily Expedition Report and more pics after the break

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Antarctica – 12/25 – Lemaire Channel and Booth Island

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Lemaire Channel

This was a pretty spectacular christmas day.  We woke up when the expedition leader announced on the loudspeaker that we had a pod of killer whales off our bow.  Better than waking up to an alarm clock…

Entering the Lemaire Channel

We then headed into the Lemaire Channel.  The captain had heard earlier reports that it was too packed with ice and we couldn’t make it through.  When we approached the Lemaire Channel another ship, the Ushuaia, had already turned around.  We hadn’t seen another ship until now and we all were pretty disappointed because it seemed like we couldn’t make it through.

The Ushuaia turning back from the Lemaire Channel

However, the captain was determined to get through and through some skillful maneuvering and crashing through even more ice…

Captain maneuvering through the Lemaire Channel

We did eventually make it through the Lemaire Channel. To bad for the guests on the Ushuaia.  This is one of the many reasons to choose the NatGeo Explorer over the other ships that travels to Antarctica.  This ship has proven it can go were others can not.

Lemaire Channel

The Lemaire Channel had a lot of wildlife.  I felt a little bad sometimes when a seal would be taking a nap on an iceberg but was in our way.  The captain would try to maneuver around the seal but sometimes it just wasn’t possible.  This seal eventually slid off the iceberg and went to find a quieter place to take a nap.

Seal trying to take a nap in the sun

Miki taking a picture of me taking the above picture.

Miki taking a picture of me taking a picture of the Lemaire Channel

After making it through the Lemaire Channel we made it to Booth Island.  We had the most spectacular light with the most dramatic cloud cover.  We had some amazing penguin and seal spottings while out on the Zodiacs.  I shot over a 1000 pictures in one afternoon.  Don’t worry… I wont post them all.

The wildlife taken from a zodiac near Booth Island.

Yawning Seal

The 3 Penguins

Headless Penguin

Jumping Penguins

and for the dramatic iceberg shots of the day.

Antarctic Iceberg Landscape

Antarctic Iceberg Landscape

When we got back to ship a couple of people were referring to our boat as the big lens zodiac.  The shortest lens on our zodiac was a 400mm.  Antarctica tends to bring a well travelled crowd and most of the photographers on board have already been on safari (some several times) which requires some big glass.  Antarctica is no different.  The bigger and faster lens you can afford to bring down the better.

Big lens boat

While I was on the zodiac cruise with the Ira Block (the NatGeo photographer on board) and the other big lens crew, Miki went on a hike to the top of Booth Island.

Penguin Highway

Hiking on Booth Island

I also took a few pictures with my infrared converted 30D when we were travelling back through the Lemaire Channel.  My infrared camera spent most of the time in the camera bag because I’ve had limited success with it.  Even with the stunning landscape of Antarctica, I’m still not satisfied with the results.  Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I think simple black and white photos are much more appealing.

Antarctica in Infrared

Antarctica in Infrared

The daily expedition report and a few more photos after the break.

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Antarctica – 12/24 – Deception Island (Polar Plunge) & Lindblad Cove

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Deception Island Crater

Early in the morning we arrived at Deception Island.  This island has a lot of history for the early explorers and also served as a whaling station for several of the early whaling operations.  All of that has stopped now and after some recent volcanic eruptions only 2 research stations are still left on the island.

It was a very flat and grey overcast day when we arrived.  There was no wildlife on the island.  Just a lot of grey volcanic ash and little bit of snow.  Obviously this doesn’t make for great photos but Miki was able to stop some interesting texture in the ash which I think makes an interesting photo.  This is a color photo.  It hasn’t been processed as a black and white photo.  Just shows how flat the light was that day.

Color landscape photo of Deception Island

There is still a lot of thermal activity from the volcano which does produce some “hot springs”.  Hot Springs is a bit of misnomer.  The first 3 cm of water very close to shore is very hot but beyond that its as cold as you would imagine the water in Antarctica would be.  None the less… we join some of our hearty travelers and went for a dip.

Taking the Polar Plunge

Miki enjoying the Antarctic "Hot Springs"

After we enjoyed the polar plunge we continued onto Lindblad Cove where we would spend Christmas eve.  On the way there we spotted a pod of humpback whales feeding on Krill.  This whale also got an frightened bird for desert.

Humpback Whale almost eating a bird

Humpback whales catching krill with bubbles

The whales use bubbles to gather the Krill together and the swim up through the ball of krill with their mouths open to scoop up as much krill is they can in one big gulp.

Humpback whale feeding on Krill

Dennis, our undersea specialist wanted to catch some Krill for us to show what they looked like.  He hopped into one of the Zodiacs to get some for us and had a close encounter with the humpbacks.  Dennis is a great guy and is always one of the highlights during the daily recap of the days events.  However, we were all secretly hoping the whales would have gotten even a little closer to cause some real action for him ;)

Catching Krill

He did catch some Krill for us and its surprising how small these things are.  Amazing to think that these tiny things are what massive humpback whales and a lot of other species live off of.

Krill

and as soon as the whales showed up… they were off to feed elsewhere.

Humpback Whale Tail

Next up was Lindblad Cove and this was one of the highlights of the trip.  The cove was full of us but that didn’t stop the captain.  We made our way through slowly and the views were spectacular.

Panoramic of Lindblad Cove

Having this kind of view from the balcony of our room on Christmas eve was reasons this was one of the highlights of the trip.

View from the NatGeo Explorer on Christmas Eve 2010

I never got tired of taking pictures of the ice.  Here are a few more of the cool ice picks from the day.

Lindblad Cove - Ice

Lindblad Cove - Ice

Lindblad Cove - Ice that looks like a whale tail

Lindblad Cove - Ice

Lindblad Cove - Ice

Daily Expedition Report and a few more pics after the break.

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Antarctica – 12/23 – Paulet Island & Joinville Island

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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Today we made our way further into the Weddell sea to our morning destination of Paulet Island.  Paulet Island has an huge colony of Adelie penguins.  Over 100,000… penguins as far as the eye can see… and the smell to go with it.

Massive Colony of Adelie Penguins on Paulet Island

Paulet Island Panoramic Landscape

As with most days they split us up so some went on a Zodiac tour while the others went on land.  We went on the Zodiac tour first and got some great penguin shots.

It’s very hard to get a picture of a penguin jumping into the water…

Adelie penguins lining up to jump into the water

…but its darn near impossible to get one jumping out of the water.

Adelie penguin jumping out of the water onto an iceberg

Another one of the many nice touches that Lindblad does is the Hot Choco Zodiac.  We were out and about enjoying the scenery and taking pictures of penguins when our Zodiac driver asked if anyone wanted hot chocolate.  We turned around and saw this.  A very nice treat on a cold antarctic day.

Hot choco zodiac

The Brown Skua is a nasty little bird.  It is especially fond of young penguin chics and is really very skillful when working in pairs to catch one of the young chics.  One Skua usually distracts the parent while the other one goes in for the kill.  This Skua was just finishing off a penguin.

Skua eating a penguin

The penguins are obviously very wary of Skuas as you can see here.  He quickly ran away after seeing this guy even though the penguin was way to big for him to eat I don’t think he wanted to take any chances.

Penguin scared of Skua

One of my favorite birds is the Sheathbill.  This bird really does eat everything including invertebrates, dead seals, chics, eggs, and even feces.  The last of which has earned this bird the nickname of “shitbill”.

Sheathbill aka "shitbill"

We spotted a lot of different birds today.  Another beautiful bird is the Northern Giant Petrel.

Northern Giant Petrel

Wildlife photography isn’t the only reason to visit antarctica.  The landscapes are amazing.  You need to be careful not to get what people call “penguin tunnel vision”.  Take the time to look up and take in the surroundings.  Even put the camera down… at least for a minute because you don’t want to miss panos like this.

Weddell Sea Panoramic

But dont forget about the details.  Some of the most amazing shots can be found when you get up close.

Icicles

Below is the remains of the Nordenskjold Swedish Expedition from 1901 – 1904.  This is quite an amazing story.  You can get a brief  synopsis of their story on wikipedia.  It’s amazing that we are now able to travel to Antarctica without any of the hardship these explorers faced just 100 years ago.

Remains of the 1901-1904 Swedish Antarctic Expedition

After our visit to Paulet island we headed toward Joinville Island.  We had a choice to go ashore and do some hiking on Joinville island or go kayaking.  We choose kayaking.  It’s an amazing feeling to be kayaking so close to icebergs, penguins and seals and then to realize that you are actually in Antarctica.  A very peaceful afternoon.

Kayaking at Tay Head

After we finished kayaking at Tay Head we had to start heading back through the Antarctic sound and towards the western side of the Antarctica Peninsula.

On the way back we had another spotting of Orcas.

Pod of Killer Whales in the Weddell Sea

Orca bubbles

It’s hard to understand the scale of the things in Antarctica.  Even being there doesn’t really help you understand.  This tabular iceberg was probably taller than a 30 story building.  Even having the two Killer Whale fins in the foreground can’t show the true size of the iceberg.  The real amazing thing is the over 70% of the iceberg is still underwater.

Tabular Iceberg with Killer Whales

Daily Expedition Report by Karen Copeland and a few more pics after the break.

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Antarctica – 12/22 – Brown Bluff: Weddell Sea

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Panoramic photo from Brown Bluff

Everyday in Antarctica keeps getting better and better.  Penguins, icebergs and the most amazing sunset (at 11:30pm).

Up close with an Adelie

The light during our landing at Brown Bluff wasn’t the greatest for photographing penguins.  It was high in the sky with no cloud cover to soften it.  Just like portraits of people, penguins need nice soft light for a good portrait photo.  However, even a bad day of light in Antarctica is a better day of light anywhere else in the world.

Gentoo penguin and chic

Two Adelie penguin chics

Adelie penguin with some beady little eyes!

On most days we are treated to time on land as well as a zodiac ride.  Zodiac rides are some of the best photographic opportunities because its very easy to get eye level with wildlife hanging out on icebergs.  I took this series of shots from a zodiac and then merged them together into one photo to show action.

Adelie penguin jumping into the water

After we left Brown Bluff we continued into the Weddell Sea.  As Jen wrote in the daily expedition report below, not many ships go this far south because they can’t handle the ice and they are not fast enough to make the journey there worth while.

Reflection of the bow on pancake ice in front of the ship

We were in our cabin taking a nap when all of the sudden the entire ship shook like we just collided with something.  We quickly put our cold weather gear on, grabbed the camera and headed for the bow.  I guess our captain never watched Titanic and learned you are supposed to steer clear of icebergs.  He seemed to have fun crashing right into them.  This was going to be a common occurrence for the rest of the trip and eventually we just slept through it.

NatGeo Explorer crashing into icebergs

For us, it was definitely worth while to make the trip this far into the Weddell Sea because we saw a juvenile emperor penguin which are very hard to find out on the pack ice.

Emperor Penguin

The daily expedition report for 12/22 is by Jen Labrecque,

Brown Bluff in the Weddell Sea

The Weddell Sea, Antarctic Sound, and beyond. This morning our expedition continued in an area of the Antarctic Peninsula where many ships do not go. The eastern side of the peninsula often sees more days of sunshine and blue skies, but the sea ice and strong winds keep many ships from venturing to this side. The lure of tabular icebergs and the less explored is something many of us, however, cannot ignore, so enter the Weddell Sea we did.

The towering cliffs of Brown Bluff were the first view many had this morning. Adelie penguins and some gentoo penguins have colonized the narrow strip of cobble and beach before the steep cliffs begin to rise. Walking to the edge of the first colony of Adelie penguins, many were thrilled to see that most adults sitting in a nest had a small chick sitting underneath them. While we watched and waited patiently, the adult would eventually stand up and adjust themselves, allowing a glimpse of the small new bird keeping warm under them.

The special and rare snow petrel soared above our heads, for this is a place they like to nest. The stunning white bird is the most southerly breeding bird in the world. They tend to stay near areas of pack ice, so the chance to see so many around was exciting. The cape petrels were in abundance as well. Large flocks of them gathered in a few areas around the landing. They were feeding in groups, looking for fish, squid and the ever-popular krill.

A scenic route back to the ship brought views of deep blue icebergs, tunnels passing through them, penguins perched on top and even some collapsing and rolling. It was good preparation for the afternoon spent cruising through the icebergs and sea ice as we headed deeper into the Weddell Sea. The ship crashed its way through the ice of the far south; it rocked and shook and people delighted in hanging over the bow and watching ice floes fracture and crack into pieces. The colossal tabular icebergs could be seen in all directions as well, with sides and a top so straight that they seemed man-made.

An evening spent cruising through the ice of the Weddell Sea—who would have ever imagined they would spend such a glorious, sunlit evening doing such a thing?
by Jen Labrecque

And the night was finished off by an amazing sunset at 11:30 pm.

Sunset in the Weddell Sea

and a few more from the day.

Antarctica – 12/21 – Aitcho Island & Half Moon Island: South Shetland Islands

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Gentoo penguin nests

Our first day in Antarctica and for Miki and I it was the 6th continent we’ve been to (we still haven’t been to Europe).  The first island we went to was Aitcho which had a large colony of Gentoo penguins.  To our surprise, Aitcho island was very green.  This was the last piece of green land we would see for the rest of the trip.

Gentoo penguin going for a run

We then travelled from Aitcho Island to Half Moon island we had our first humpback whale sightings.

Humpback whale tale

Pano from one side of Half Moon island.

Pano from the other side of Half Moon Island

Here is the Daily expedition report by Justin Hofman

With winds pushing us from behind all night and a calm sea state to boot, the National Geographic Explorer made fantastic time crossing the Drake Passage. As we rubbed the sleep from our eyes this morning, the ship’s crew brought us within sight of land for the first time since leaving South America. Rising like a dragon’s back from a tempestuous sea, the South Shetland Islands were our first landfall on this Antarctic voyage.
Named after the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office, Aitcho Island is the phonetic interpretation of ‘H.O.’ Aitcho Island was virtually snow-free this morning, making for easy passage as we walked amongst chinstrap and gentoo penguin breeding colonies. Having the freedom to stop and sit amongst these wild animals, we being to appreciate their daily struggles. We watched the chinstrap penguins work themselves up into a musical frenzy, heads held high and rolling from side to side, wings rhythmically flapping at a slow pace, their display a high-pitched chirp/scream. The gentoos with their chests puffed up to capacity, pulsing with exuberant exhalations, followed by quick, wheezy inhalations, all of it resonating with a nasally timbre. Whether it was clean penguins returning from sea with crops full of food or the dirty penguins defending their eggs and chicks from marauding brown skuas, all the animals here had a job to do: Ensure the survival of my genes by raising a chick. Good luck pied friends.
To be denied a glimpse of the sun on the summer solstice sounds like a cruel joke. Luckily for us, the weather around the South Shetland Islands broke open and cast beautiful light onto several rather relaxed humpback whales. The combination of clear skies and stark white pectoral flippers meant that we could watch the whales beneath the surface. Steadily moving along and traveling just beneath the surface, our first whale encounter was a beautiful one. Eventually we left our sea-bound brethren and were greeted with fantastic light upon the glaciers surrounding Half Moon Island, the sight of our afternoon’s activities. We watched Weddell seals lazily rolling in freezing cold water or dozing right on the snow itself. Chinstrap penguins slid by like self-propelled toboggans on their downhill commute to the sea. As the clouds once again began to fall into rank and the sun was shut out into a global diffuse light, we steadily, yet reluctantly returned to our ship. By now our bodies are telling us to seek out rest, our heads are buzzing with enthusiasm and our stomachs are demanding satisfaction. Tonight we head north, then east for the Weddell Sea, what we will encounter no one knows for sure. I do know this: there will be penguins and they will be working hard.

by Justin Hofman

Some more of our favorite pics from Aitcho and Half Moon Island.