2009 Expedition Archives
Saturday, February 21
Posted by Geoff Green, Expedition Leader
Hello to all from Antarctica,
And happy “Students on Ice Day” at the International Polar Year meetings in Geneva, Switzerland! We hope you have been following our journey these past 8 days at www.studentsonice.com, and sharing the extraordinary experiences with us. Our group of 72 high school and university students from 13 countries around the World, are having the time of their lives here in Antarctica. These students are living the IPY dream, and I can safely say, have picked up the torch to carry the IPY legacy onwards for the next several decades.
These last three days in Antarctica have filled our back pockets with memories and experiences that we will all keep for our lifetime. Antarctica has welcomed us with wide-open arms. Today we were able to land at one of my favorite places in Antarctica - Baily Head on Deception Island. Hundreds of thousands of Chinstrap penguins greeted us as we surfed onto the long, black volcanic beach with our trusty Zodiacs.
We have felt awe and wonder, and have been humbled and overwhelmed by Antarctica’s power and beauty every step of the way. How lucky we are!
Since 1999, Students on Ice has taken over 1,000 students to both of the Polar Regions on educational expeditions, together with teams of scientists, experts, teachers, artists et al. We hope to take many more in the years to come. As the IPY draws to a close next month, we know it is really just a beginning. The students on this expedition are testament to that.
Please enjoy the student journals, photos and videos posted on this site about our journey so far. We will continue to post regular updates in the days ahead.
In the expedition spirit,
Founder & Executive Director,
Students on Ice, IPY Project #343
Member of Canada’s IPY National Committee
Journal Entry by Cathrine Sopracolle, Goodsoil, Saskatchewan / University of Alberta
Neko Harbour and Port Lockroy
This morning I awoke to the sight of majestic mountains and snow-covered glaciers. It is by far the most beautiful view of the trip so far. At breakfast it was announced that there were whales sighted on the bridge, but I was getting frustrated at rushing out to see only ripples, so I kept eating. Once again the announcement came, this time that there were two Humpback’s. I hurriedly finished the last of my meal, then grabbed the camera and binoculars on my way out to the deck. There they were, a mother and calf, rhythmically surfacing and rolling gently back under the waves as they fed on the bountiful krill. With one last regal wave of her tail, the mother and calf disappeared for good. Our destinations for today were Neko Harbour to conduct some ice core sampling on the glaciers and to visit a penguin colony. Later on in the day we would be visiting Port Lockroy to do some souvenir shopping at a British outpost.
On our way to Neko Harbour we saw large groups of penguins “dolphining” past with lightning speed, and stately icebergs glittered in crystal white and azure blue as we went by. The zodiac landing at Neko Harbour was our first actual landing on the Antarctic Continent; how exciting! As we landed on the beach, one of the surrounding Glaciers began calving, and for the duration of our stay we heard loud claps of what sounded like thunder and a roaring as the ice and snow collapsed into the bay. We heard and felt the percussion seconds after the actual event. Large waves and chunks of ice rippled up to the beach where we had disembarked, and we were thankful that we weren’t anywhere near it. The bay is home to a Gentoo Penguin colony, and we were fascinated by the little paths that they had beaten on their way up and down the snowy slopes. The snow itself was stained pink with their excrement, and they looked very comical in their molting feathers. Some had little Mohawk fringes on the tops of their heads, and others seemed to have “pork chop” sideburns that were very patchy and uneven. They were unafraid of us, and some even wandered up to peck at our clothing in hopes of getting some food. The parents stop feeding the juveniles, and after they molt they are driven by hunger to dive into the water in search of food which makes them curious and downright bold at times. The scenery was incredibly beautiful with pearly white glaciers descending down to the deeper blue of the ocean. They surrounded us on all sides except for the side open to the harbour, which teemed with life. We went out in the zodiacs to do a plankton tow and actually caught a krill in the net. The visibility in the water was eleven and a half meters, and had a whale swam under us we would have seen it very clearly. Disappointingly, one didn’t, so we headed back to the Ship. From the Bransfield strait we descended through the Gerlache Strait to Neumayer Channel. Port Lockroy was in a sheltered bay, also surrounded by mountains and glaciers. It was a very windy place, but we fared well in the zodiacs, which took us to out to view another Gentoo Penguin colony and a whale skeleton. There was a yacht moored in the bay, and a glacier calved not far from it. Luckily it was far enough away that the wave didn’t swamp it. Port Lockroy itself was a very interesting place. It is manned by three people, and has the southernmost postal service, complete with a museum and souvenir shop!
This journey has been so incredible so far. The wildlife, scenery, and weather conditions have been so incredible it is indescribable. I could write at great length about all the wonders that exist here. My emotions are running high at all the good fortune that we’ve had on this trip. My only regret is that I can’t share it with you. I hope that we can come back here together some day!
I’ve just gotten word that we are departing from the ship at 05:15 to do some research on a small glacier in one of the Wauwermans Islands. We will be taking some ice core samples and recording temperature and snow pack conditions. Must get some sleep. Bye for now! Hugs and kisses, love Cathrine
Gentoo Penguins keep their chicks warm
Journal Entry by Dan Hammond, London, ON / UWO
Drifting through Hidden Bay, Antarctica
We started the morning with a Yoga session on the top deck as we entered Errera Straight. We were greeted by two Humpback Whales sleeping directly in front of us, 8 feeding Minke whales jumping right out of the water on starboard side and two groups of penguins converging toward the center. This experience gave me a whole new understanding of a refreshing awakening and kicked off an action packed Antarctic day.
We spent the morning in Neko Harbor, rotating between four unique education stations. This harbour was absolutely breathtaking and these stations gave us an in depth understanding of every aspect of the dynamic environment that surrounded us.
The harbour is home to an enormous Gentoo penguin rookery, a very active glacier, and a recently ruined refuge hut. Penguins frolicking through the calm icy water and nurturing their chicks on the rocks near the shore; the glacier descending the mountain face, calving (giving birth to) a new iceberg every time it echoed an all mighty explosion throughout the harbour sending a swell to meet us on shore; whales passing by and squas narrowly missing our heads.
The glaciology crew pioneered up the side of a glacier where we dug snow pits to take ice core samples and analyze the thermal gradient of the layered snow. Dave Burgess and Luke Copland convey such clear and precise analysis of our immediate surroundings – it is a truly enriching experience to be studying under such professionals in their fields.
We then slid down the side of the glacier to get up close and personal with some Gentoo penguins as Santiago (our Argentine sea bird expert) explained their molting (water proofing by shedding feathers) and feeding techniques. Off we went to collect plankton in the zodiacs with Eric and Marianne, our Oceanographer and Limnologist. We cruised through some icebergs, with penguins jumping through the air right beside the boat and stopped to drop our net. Just as the net that we were lowering passed about 11 metres depth and disappeared from sight, a Minke whale surfaced about 50 feet away. We all sent out good vibes and sure enough, it popped up for a big breath about ten feet from the zodiacs – what an incredible sighting! By simply doubling the distance at which light is reflected back from below, we determined that the penetrating light would allow plankton to live up to about 22 metres deep in that area.
Olle, our Swedish elder and Antarctic expert then explained our surroundings to us from the beach. He covered everything from the volcanic history of the granite rock on which I sat to the moss growing on the exposed patch of rock on the side of the mountain to the difference in wavelength reflection differentiating the white surface from the glowing blue crevasses on the glacier to the reason why we ended up snacking on a nutritious patch of seaweed that had just washed ashore. After being humble by the majestic power of this thriving ecosystem, we headed off to visit Port Lockroy, a British scientific research base that has been there since 1950.
The wooden shack is well preserved with ancient (from an 18 year old’s perspective) technology once used to study atmospheric conditions, among other things. It’s still inhabited and they have a little museum, souvenir shop, and post office. Despite the massive amount of postcards that were sent by our group, I opted not to send a piece of inked paper back over thousands of kilometres, emitting completely unnecessary transportation emissions, only to arrive at my destination well after I – oh the things we do. But my passport got an official Antarctic stamp!
This small, rocky island had hundreds of Gentoo penguins molting all over the place. They were, by far, the friendliest penguins we’ve seen thus far; some would come right up and nibble on your finger or peck at your legs. The island also had some incredible whale remains; full humped back whale skeletons sticking out of the ground, quite the eerie sight.
We’re spending the night drifting through Hidden Bay, Antarctica, waking up at 5:00am to hike up a glacier and do some more sampling! Early morning and another big day!
I have to keep reminding myself where I am. My constant state of awe and wonder exponentially increases with every stop we make, every sight I see, and every breath I take.
Journal Entry by Dylan Polacek, Boca Raton, Fl
Neko Harbour, heading towards Point Lockroy
Today was the first zodiac landing we made on the actual continent. We reached the beach in the morning an had a small penguin lecture by the ornithologist, Santiago, while we were surrounded by hundreds of Gentoos. These penguins were much friendlier than the Chinstraps and Adelies, and one actually came up to me and nipped at my glove and jacket. We then jumped back on the zodiacs to do a plankton tow. The water wasn’t filled with plankton, but we did find some phytoplankton. The entire time at the harbour we heard echoing cracks of the glaciers calving. When the huge chunks broke off into the water, it sounded like thunder and sets of waves hit the beach.
We then headed back to shore, where we sat in silence, listening to the glaciers and the calls of the penguins. After a nice break, we began hiking up a huge glacier, and the snow in the top was a foot or so deep. By the time I reached the top, I was really exhausted. Once we were there, we did some ice core sampling and measured the different layers of snow and ice with the glaciologist Luke Copland. To get back down, we jumped on the ice shovels and slid down the steep glacier. Once we got down to the beach, we headed back to the ship for lunch. This landing made for a perfect morning and now we are headed to Point Lockroy.
Leaving Port Lockroy
After leaving Neko Harbour, we made a stop at Port Lockroy, a historic British research base. The zodiac first took our group to a part of the port with many Gentoo penguins and scattered whale bones. The penguins were really friendly and a lot of the adults were feeding their chicks. There were also nests with very small chicks still needing protection that would probably not survive the season because of the skuas that come through. The whale bones were a great part of the landing. Their ribs and skulls were massive and there were several along the rocky coast.
Next, we took a zodiac over to the actual Port Lockroy base, where there is currently a museum, a shop, and a place to send mail. After wandering through there and seeing the historic science instruments and tools used by the British Antarctic Survey, we headed back to the ship. Along the way, I saw a huge Leopard seal swim past our zodiac. On the ship, we had another great dinner, and now I am heading to a briefing. Tomorrow’s plans are unknown for now, but Geoff is telling me it is going to be a pretty good day.
Nunavik Student Penina Kleist sits among Penguins
Journal Entry by Emilie Hebert-Houle, Trois-Rivieres, UQTR
burlash, Neko Harbor, … Port … Hidden Bay
En écoutant du Cœur de Pirate, tranquillement, me laissant bercer par le roulis du bateau qui se fraie un chemin dans le Gerlache Channel, je respire et quand j’inspire, j’absorbe. Il faut être plus qu’une éponge pour être en mesure d’imprégner tout ce qu’on voit. Tellement de choses à voir, des paysages plus beaux toujours, des animaux partout, de toutes les grosseurs, dans l’eau, sur la plage, sur la glace, et qui nous observent autant que nous le faisons.
C’est un buffet 5 étoiles de moments magiques, on n’en finit plus d’observer et de s’émerveiller, un vrai marathon pour les yeux, un exercice d’assimilation incomparable pour la tête et une explosion d’émotions pour le cœur. On accumule les «Back pocket days» (concept de Geoff qui consiste à mettre une journée extraordinaire dans la poche arrière de son pantalon pour la ressortir dans les moments moins brillants).
Tout ça c’est en parlant de la nature qui nous entoure, mais c’est la même chose pour les gens avec qui je partage le bateau. Tellement d’étoiles dans ces yeux qui voient l’Antarctique pour la 1e ou la 75e fois, tellement d’expériences à partager. Un tel désir de nous faire vivre l’expérience au maximum, de nous mettre en contact avec l’Antarctique, de nous faire découvrir, sa force, sa pureté, son explosion de vie ainsi que sa fragilité.
Ce voyage est saisissant, il pénètre en moi et cherche une place où s’accrocher pour être certain de ne plus me quitter. Pour que ces rencontres me marquent, qu’elles restent gravées et qu’elles me guident inconsciemment dans le futur. On appréhende toujours la fin quand on vit de tels moments. Plus que jamais j’ai soif du moment présent. J’ai soif d’espace, de sourires, d’eau, de regards, de glace, d’étonnement, de baleines, d’émerveillement, de manchots. Je vis, je respire, je flotte et je me laisse guider, vers d’autres aventures.
WOW. Je capote. Bon tout ce que je voulais voir je l’ai vu, je suis déjà comblée et il reste 2 jours et demi complets ici (avant la pénible traversée de retour). Ce matin, pendant notre séance de yoga quotidienne, de petits rorquals nous tenaient compagnie dans l’horizon, puis quand tout le monde était debout, le groupe de 6 à 8 individus qui s’alimentait activement nous a donné tout un spectacle! Mes amis d’Explos lisez ceci: j’ai vu des breachs en rafale!!! OUI, les rorquals s’en donnaient à cœur joie dans la baie et sautaient hors de l’eau. Je n’ai malheureusement pas pu tous les voir, car je devais aussi garder un œil sur la maman et le bébé rorqual à bosse qui sommeillaient à 50 mètres en avant du bateau! Ensuite lors de l’expédition sur le terrain, des manchots sont passés à moins de 50cm de moi, des glaciers faisaient résonner la baie au son de leurs craquements et un petit rorqual est venu prendre son souffle à moins de 7m de notre zodiac, dans lequel nous échantillonnions le plancton. Bon vous en voulez plus? Ça devra attendre, ça serait trop long. Pour l’instant je vais répondre à un questionnaire sur mon expérience à terre, pour participer aux travaux de recherche du cours de l’impact du tourisme en Antarctique, ensuite je ferai la lecture des lectures données par mon professeur, puis j’irai faire un bon somme avant d’aller visiter un autre site exceptionnel. Je suis presqu’aussi ocupée que si j’étais à l’unversité à la maison quoi!
Bonne fête Martin Plante en passant ;)
À bientôt mes amis, mes amours. xxx
Je veux aussi remercier Gosselin Photo, grâce à vous je prends des clichés assez incroyables. Je m’impressionne moi même!
A drawing of an iceberg by student Cheryl Grabski
Journal Entry by Jason Qaapik Pijamini, Grise Fiord/Umimmak School
I woke up at 7 and got dressed. Then I went to breakfast then we went to the bridge. We saw whales! Then I went outside watching the Humpback Whales. One was a baby and one was a mother. I watched them for 15 to 20 minutes while they came up and down. I also saw penguins and they were jumping around on the water.
Next, I went back to the bridge to keep watching for more whales and penguins. Then everyone went to get ready for a trip to shore, at Neko Harbour. When we got there we saw big ice falling down. It sounded like a bomb or something, like I have seen on the T.V. Then we went to the glacier to learn about how old the ice is. By doing an ice core we could see bubbles and the colours inside, white and blue. On our last visit I got to see a baby penguin with his mother. I got a really good picture of a baby penguin.
A Student slides down a hill
Journal Entry by Jodie King, Nippissing University
Today we took our first steps on the actual continent of Antarctica. We have been visiting many islands, but today we first walked upon Neko Harbor. This place is absolutely breath-taking. It was amazing to wake up this morning and look out the window into another completely new place. Each day there is something new and exciting to see, but today was the more stereotypical version of what Antarctica would really seem like to most of us. I started taking pictures of the landscape, and each time I turn around, it looks different! I ended up with so many pictures of the same thing in the end because it just continues to amaze me with its beauty.
At Neko Harbor, we had a chance to see some amazing glaciers, and actually see it calve several times! We dug some snow pits and took some ice cores up on top of one of the glaciers for our glaciology class, sampled a few phytoplanktons, learned about Gentoo penguins and then took some time to just soak in all the magnificence of the place we were standing. The best part was when I was sitting, just staring out at the glacier. A small penguin chick came walking over to me and started to peck at my pants and boots. It was amazing to be able to interact with a wild animal like that, and really see them so close.
Again at Port Lockroy we were met with the same type of environment. The penguins are so used to visitors that they really have no fear of us at all and definitely want to play! Well, I guess not play; they are looking for food. We visited the British Antarctic Survey “Base A” here, and got to see the actual hut that has been restored. There is actually a gift shop there! I think that part actually sort of ruins the illusion of Antarctica by being able to buying things here like anywhere else. I did send some postcards though! Don’t expect them for a month!
Overall, today was an amazing day of interacting with the penguins. Geoff keeps saying we are having those days that you just want to put in your back pocket and store forever. We have already filled both back pockets though, so I guess this one is for the front!
Students aboard the MV Ushuaia observe an iceberg
Journal Entry by Maéva Gauthier, Mt-Tremblant, Qc, University of Victoria
Antarctic Peninsula! Neko Harbour and Port Lockroy
Un petit matin incroyable… est-ce qu’il y a plus? Émilie Hebert-Houle (université de Trois-Rivières, Qc) m’a réveillé pour aller faire du yoga à 6h du matin, nous étions quatre sur le pont à saluer l’entrée vers la péninsule de l’Antarctique! Tout était blanc, sauf les crevasses variées un peu partout dans les glaciers qui sont d’un bleu turquoise intense. C’est quasiment irréel. Ensuite, sept petits rorquals se sont mis à nager vers l’avant du bateau, vers tribord puis vers babord. Comme si ce n’était pas assez, un groupe de manchots nageait tout près. Nous nous sommes aperçus que deux masses semblaient créer de l’eau plus stagnante vers l’avant du bateau. C’était deux baleines à bosses qui dormaient: une mère et son petit. Ils se sont réveillés et ont commencé à nager autour, on a vu surtout leurs nageoires dorsales, parfois la queue. Tout cela se passait en simultané avec un fond de glaciers et des icebergs flottant autour. Nous ne savions plus ou regarder, c’était totalement incroyable!! Puis, les petits rorquals se sont mis à sauter sur le côté pour se nourrir très probablement. Quelle expérience incroyable…
La première sortie de la journée fut à Neko Harbour: j’ai mis le pied en Antarctique officiellement! Les glaciers font des bruits profonds lorsqu’ils se crevassent et cela forme des icebergs lorsqu’ils se détachent du continent comme tel. Un bruit sourd se fait entendre, puis c’est toute une colonne qui s’effondre dans l’eau et cela crée un mini tsunami. On doit alors s’éloigner du bord de l’eau. Nous avons pu observer des manchots Gentoo à cet endroit, puis on est montés pour aller prendre une carotte de glace avec Dave et Luke, nos glaciologues. Nous avons appris sur les différentes formations de cristaux dans la neige, ce qui crée des avalanches, la lecture du climat en prenant une carotte. Ensuite, Santiago qui est ornithologue nous a parlé de la colonie de Gentoo. Certains bébés manchots sont encore tout petits, mais à ce stade-ci ils devraient muer et partir bientôt. Les parents, probablement inexpérimentés, sont arrives trop tard en saison pour leur laisser le temps de grandir pendant 3 mois. Ensuite, à la station zodiac, Marianne et Eric nous ont parlé du phyto et zooplancton, nous avons pris un échantillon, puis sommes revenus au bateau!
En après-midi, nous avons mis les pieds à Port Lockry, une station de Grande-Bretagne, qui est maintenant devenu un musée plus qu’une station de recherche. Les manchots Gentoo sont complètement habitués aux visiteurs et nous devons faire attention pour ne pas leur marcher dessus ou les surprendre! Il y avait également des os de baleines tout près laissés par des pêcheurs il y a plusieurs années. La journée s’achève, une soirée un peu plus tranquille nous attend pour faire des lectures, écrire, discuter. Nous allons regarder un film aussi sur l’histoire de Port Lockry. C’est la fête à Tim, le directeur des programmes d’éducation. Avoir 30 ans en Antarctique, c’est quand même original!
An amazing morning. Is there something beyond? Emilie Hebert-Houle (University of Trois-Rivieres, Qc) woke me up at 6am so we could go do yoga on the deck. We contemplated the entrance in the Antarctic Peninsula with the glaciers white and turquoise coming out of the crevasses! Then, seven Minke whales were swimming around and breaching! Quite spectacular! A group of penguins were purposing around as well and two humpback whales were sleeping ahead. It was a female with her calf. They started swimming around as well. Everything simultaneously, we didn’t know where to look!! Yes, we stopped yoga after 30 minutes, there were just too many things going on…
Our first landing was at Neko harbour: I put my foot in Antarctica officially! We had different stations to learn about glaciers, Gentoo penguins, as well as going sampling phyto and zooplankton by zodiac. Luke and Dave took an ice core, explained the formation of the snow crystals, what may trigger avalanches, how to look at climate changes through these cores, etc. Then, Santiago talked to us about the Gentoo colony. Eric and Marianne took us on a zodiac trip to sample phyto and zooplankton. For the biologists following, collembola, which are cute terrestrial insects, were also found. They were most likely brought from the beach by the waves.
Our second landing was at Port Lockry, the UK base station. Nowadays, it is more a museum than a research base, but it was interesting to see how it is organized. The Gentoo penguins are totally used to see visitors and we can get so close to them! We even have to watch where we put our feet, so we don’t surprise them. Some chicks seem pretty young and won’t make it. They are usually getting ready to leave soon and some are already gone at this time. The parents were probably inexperienced and arrived too late in the season to let them grow three months before the winter kicks in.
Tonight will be a quiet night to read, discuss or write. We will also watch a movie about the history of Port Lockry. It’s Tim’s birthday today, the Education program director. Celebrating 30 years old in Antarctica, it’s pretty amazing!
A young Gentoo approaches student Jodie King
Poem by Marianne Mathis, Université Laval, QC
Mon rêve blanc était enfin là,
Dans toute sa splendeur éblouissante.
C’était mon imagination que j’étendais là,
À coup de crayon mine,
À bout de bras de falaises brunes,
De surplombante glace,
De souffles de baleines,
De rochers éjectés du magma intraterrestre.
Essouflant de beauté.
L’infini s’étendait là,
Tranquille dans toute sa force,
Puissant de tout son éclat.
Nous avons le monde,
Nous avons la vie,
Nous aurons encore demain
Cette immensité à dévorer de nos yeux bénis.
Et demain encore,
A Gentoo parent and chicks
Journal Entry by Mark Boulianne, Kuujjuaq/Jaanimmarik School
Neko Harbour, Port Lockroy
Journal Entry (insert here!): - This morning around 6:30 am, I went outside on the deck of the ship to go see Humpback Whales. I took pictures, watched them rise up to the surface and just enjoyed it.
After breakfast, we went a shore on Neko Harbor to study glaciers and watch the glaciers fall in the water - listening to the cracking, popping noise as the fell. Most of the time, it would sound like gun shots which was really cool. During my time on shore, I also visited Gentoo penguins and they were the most curious penguins of all of the other penguins I’ve seen. They were getting so close that they would be pecking at everyone who was sitting down and relaxing. I experienced it and it was really great and funny.
After we had lunch, we went to visit Port Lockroy, it was a British base where we could mail our postcards or letters to family members and friends. It was also an Antarctic Museum. I mailed a post-card for my father and it will get there long after I get home. After our visit, we went on the other side of the small island to take more pictures of Gentoo Penguins. We went back to the ship to relax, enjoy supper and rest for another big day in Antarctica.
A Gentoo Penguin calls out
Journal Entry by Mireille Deschamps, University of Ottawa
Good morning Antarctica!
Ah! What a great morning… Visiting Neko Harbour was just the best welcome I could have imagined from this amazing continent. The nature and the wildlife that surrounded us just blew me away and I could not have had a more welcoming feeling than this. This morning we saw the friendly side of Antarctica. When thinking of this continent we often think of its harsh climate and cool temperature, but today at Neko Harbour we got the opposite. It was a warm, beautiful day and we got greeted by the Gentoo penguins are we arrived at the beach. I got to see some coring up on the glacier, go plankton fishing and greeted by a Minke whale right beside the zodiac, learn about penguins with Santiago and relax on rocks with Olle. It was so fantastic to see so much wildlife and the massive glacier and its calving front on the edge of the water. The front was calving, which means so pieces of the Glacier were falling in. We could hear a loud sound of thunder, followed by a “small” (it was a lot of ice but in relation to the size of the calving front, they were pretty small) tumble of ice. It was great to be surrounded by the grand environment of this pretty isolated continent.
* * * * *
Quel bon Matin! Notre visite à Neko Harbour a été fantastique et une merveilleuse manière d’être accueillie sur le continent. C’était merveilleux. Souvent lorsque l’on pense à l’Antarctique on pense à son climat difficile et ses froides températures mais se matin nous avons vu un tout autre côté du continent. Il faisait chaud, beau et nous avons été accueilli par les pingouins Gentoo à notre arrivée sur la plage. Il avait un mur de glace au pied du glacier couvrant Neko Harbour qui perdait de la glace dans l’eau du havre. C’était tout un spectacle. On entendait un grondement suivit d’une petit tombée de glace. En fait, elle n’était pas petite mais puisque que le mur au pied du glacier était si grand, les portions tombantes étaient des petits morceaux de ceux-ci. C’est environnement m’a complètement emballé et je suis heureuse que le continent m’ait accueillie si chaleureusement.
Evening in Antarctica
Journal Entry by Munira Shaipudin Shah, Kampung Belangkan, University of Malaya
Who would imagine one is able to mail his or her postcards back home, way back home to the other side of the world, in this case Malaysia through the Antarctic post. Crazy huh!!! Amazingly crazy!!! They even have this small quaint souvenir shop which is loaded with these authentic cool gifts to give those you care so much about at home a piece of Antarctica. Gee..maybe I shouldn’t have pointed this one out ;p..I am so going to be in a deep trouble when I get back home in a week’s time. So to make aware those people back at home, I am just going to be blunt and say it out right here, right now… I am not that rich dear family, friends and acquaintances, although I have been very, very blessed in my life, I can’t afford to buy everyone something…Anyway, to smooth things out with everyone, I will bake everyone a little something once I get back ;)- So that’s that about my rambling, I am still not done with the shop yet. Strangely enough, I feel obliged to describe every single detail I can still remember about it.
So here you go;
- They have this small post-box….this is to mail all the letters and cards
- Roughly about 70, 000 cards are being posted worldwide (over 100 countries) ever year. Takes about 2-6 weeks to reach all recipients, depending on the distance it needs to cover…also depending on the quality of the post services in certain countries ;p
- Gift shop/post office/tourist spot/penguin rookery is at Port Lockroy ‘Base A’, Goudier Island, Antarctic Peninsula 64˚ 49’ S, 63˚ 29’ W
- The port or the postal services on Port Lockroy is being managed by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust on the behalf of the Government of the British Antarctic Territory
- The aforementioned penguin rookery is for the Gentoo penguins
- It is also a heritage site which is protected under the Antarctic Treaty System
Open only during the Antarctic summer
Journal Entry by Penina Mae Kleist, Kuujjuaq, Qc / Jaanimmarik
On the Ship
Hello’s once again. 2 days ago we went to the Island called Paulet Island. We all finally went out of the ship since we got in to the ship, it was the first time we saw Fur seals and little penguins and took some a lot of pictures. Since we all saw the hut were the men stayed long time ago and we had two choices one going for zodiac ride around the icebergs and the other one was to go hike to the highest mountain that use to be a base to the men and I choose hiking so I had to walk all the way to the top and the sun was shining while we tried going up and I made it to the top plus it was so tiring but yeah I got there safe. We had to zigzag up first and then while we were heading back we had to take the same way that we went up zigzag downwards. And at least I sledded down a little and then we had to go back to the ship.
After supper there were lots of icebergs everywhere you look, and the sun set was so beautiful and so nice. Yesterday after breakfast we went to Deception Island and we all the millions of penguins and some Fur seals and it was so amazing to see lots of them. I even video taped a Fur seal catching a little penguin by its mouth and that little penguin survived but maybe it wouldn’t last long since it had a slash by its neck. After visiting the Island we went to go visit the old whaling station where the volcano erupted long time ago and it was fun, and I took a lot of pictures too. There were these old buildings still standing up and the water on the shore was really warm, I even couldn’t believe it but when I touched it, it was really warm. After visiting the whaling station we all went back to the ship to go have some late lunch since it was 2:00pm. After lunch I felt so tired so I fell asleep, while I took a nap, they all went to go swimming where the warm was located. I did not follow but when I got up I took the binoculars look for them and saw them swimming on the beach.
Today this morning I got up at 6:00am to see the beautiful view of Antarctica, a different view then the ones we saw this past days. We all landed on Neko Island where Gentoo penguins were and the glaciers, aahhh it was so beautiful. We all had 4 different spots to go, first us high school students were just sitting by the rocks looking at this penguins and taking some photos, and next was to go zodiac ride to see how the water temperature was, and thirdly we went on the beach to relax and listen to the creatures like birds and penguins and the cracking falling glaciers and then the last one we went was we had to climb the hill all the way up, to go see the guys talking about how old the glacier ice was. After that we went back to the ship to go have some hotdog, hamburger with fries and ketchup yummy. And where going to a place where there’s mailing center and little bit of shop stuffs. Hahaha yeah this trips been fun and yeah I’m going home next week on Sunday! It’s fun being on the ship making friends and learning stuff that we didn’t know! And I miss you guys! Love you - that’s all for now. And this is my last journal writing for this trip ok guys - just to let you know!
Journal Entry by Sandra Borton, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops. B.C.
I've lost track
Another stellar day! 300 photos later, there are only 5 without penguins in them! Our last landing of the day was very windy, and the chill reminded me of just where I was standing – at the bottom of the world! Antarctic weather can be very unpredictable and teaches visitors like me a healthy respect for natures forces (Drake Passage also bred the same respect!). As I watched the penguins (something I did a LOT of today), I tried to tuck behind rocks to hide from the wind. I couldn’t help but to feel for the little chicks who are expending all of their energy to shed their down, as well as the adults who are molting – how cold they must have been! On top of these energy intensive processes, they still have to beware of skuas and seals! When we arrived on one beach, we heard stories from the previous group that a leopard seal had been ashore trying to eat penguins! While we were ashore I saw the seal lurking around the waters edge, but before anything could happen, a nearby iceberg rolled over and broke into about 15 pieces, distracting myself and the seal! I felt less like a tourist today and more like a witness of nature, my humility expanding by the second. I think it is such experiences, combined with the interpretation and education components of the trip that make this experience so special. This special combination also silently speaks to my responsibility to understand nature here and make every effort I can to protect and preserve it. We can’t all visit Antarctica, but we can share our experiences from the places we do visit and work collectively toward a common goal of understanding, preserving and protecting nature on our planet. I’ll be deeply appreciating my last days in Antarctica and reflecting on the simple changes that are possible in everyday life, which can go a long way in preserving and protecting this special place.
A student sits among Penguins
Journal Entry by Sierra Pope, University of Ottawa
Neko Harbour and Hidden Bay
Today was a fantastic combination of penguin time and glacier time. After an early landing at Neko Harbour, groups of us moved around different stations exploring elements of the natural world. Santiago, telling us about the Gentoo penguins, who spend three weeks in their youth not moving much, not swimming, not eating, just focusing their energy on the molting process. Luke and David, finally giving us some snow pit and coring experience on the top of the hill, with an ice layer only about a meter down and uniform crystals above that. Eric and Marianne, who took us out in the zodiacs, vertical towing for phytoplankton, with the bonus of a Minke whale surfacing only meters from our small boat. So beautiful. Olle, taking us through the geology of the beach, and sending us out to sit on rocks at the beach and reflect; on the giant rumbling cracks of the crevassed tidewater glacier and the Gentoos leaping through the water. After lunch, we stopped at Port Lockroy, a British mailing station and historical area, featuring a souvenir shop (oi) and a collection of old scientific equipment, including a Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder, which I need one of, as soon as possible. Port Lockroy was on a beautiful rock island, huge grey rocks smoothed by years of cold rough waves, covered in sleek adult penguins, wet from dives and squawking to each other into the raw wind.
This is what I heard: screaming Gentoo chicks, running to catch up to their parents, begging to be fed. Clicking penguin feet on rocks and snow. The all-too-familiar sound of a shovel on snow, and a corer moving smoothly into the ice. Skuas screeching as they swooped around our heads, searching for weak penguin snacks or perceiving threats to their nearby hidden nest. The awesome cracking of ice and snow along the jagged, blue seracs of tidewater ice, a kilometer-high wall of ice leaning in pieces over the water, waiting to fall. The clicking of ice in the tidal wave waters following a collapse from the ice front.
This is what I saw: my favourite blue, in the cracked ice and reflecting water. Clear round ice crystals in black mittens, measured evidence of destructive metamorphism. Scruffy molting penguins, eyeing us from a distance, and pink penguin guano, coating the beach, the rocks, the low-lying snow, and our boot bottoms. Skuas and terns, when I (infrequently) remembered to look up from the penguins and the glacier. Kelp in the water and metamorphism in the rocks.
Tonight we are anchored in Hidden Bay, and tomorrow morning is an early one. The glaciology group will be up for 5 am, out on the zodiacs at 5:30 to do some cores on small ice caps that Koerner always said should be cored. Finally, some real hardcore glacier work, in addition to all this visual splendor and wildlife interaction. This is an amazing time. I am so grateful to be here. I am so blessed.
A student sits among pieces of ice and Penguins
Journal Entry by Susan Nulukie, Kuujjuaq, Jaanimmarik
First of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAATU :D And happy birthday Tim, Tim (Education Program Director) he is now 30. My birthday is in 2 days :D can’t wait. It’s actually going to be in Antarctica. Coolest. Ok 2 days ago we landed finally after 2 or 3 days. It was pretty cool seen some penguins for the first time pretty cool they’re cute :P I like how they walk all at the same time its like little gangsta’s looking over their town. : P. Umm what else to say, we did a lot of things since we landed. Having to wake up so early wish I could sleep in. Yesterday we landed to an Island where it was full full full of penguins I mean they where everywhere. And then we went back to the boat for lunch. And then, we went to this cool old whalers place. We were in a volcano how cool is that? In 1961 the volcano erupted and they where people working they’re some men had to cover them self’s with metal to get to the helicopter, and rocks where flying around must have been very scary. Then we came back to the boat for a snack. Then I was about to go swimming I thought it would be not windy and kinda warm but it was windy so I didn’t go I aint that crazy. Then we went back home to the boat. Today we woke up at 6:30, gosh, 4:30 back home, crazy eh guys :P. We went to an island full of other kind of penguins than we saw the other day. They are so cute I felt like just grabbing one and cuddle it. Haha. And now we are going to land in about 45 minutes to another island. Oh and people who said that it would be more cold here then back home I hate you guys just kidding. It’s warm here I didn’t need to bring my big parka haha . Anyways I guess that’s all I had to say. Miss you guys form home I miss everything from home. But when I come back I am going to miss Antarctica A LOT. It’s very pretty, beautiful and all here its like the best place I ever went to man cool man . haha
Student Jodie King lies on a glacier
Journal Entry by Terry Noah, Grise Fiord/Umimmak School
Today Was Awesome! Yeah! Our first landing today was in Neko Harbour, our first station was with Santiago about birds. I got to get up close with the penguins especially the one penguin that kept pecking at me. After that, Jason and I got an interview with Geoff , after the interview we climbed up the glacier and drilled up some ice cores.
We also saw some Humpback and Minke whales. It was pretty sweet when the Humpback put its fin in the air and when the Minkie breached up in the air!
After we drilled up some ice, I grabbed the shovel and slid down the glacier weeeeeeeeeeee! Ha Ha Ha!. Our second landing was in Port Lockroy, which is a British Research Station, which has a museum, souvenir store and a post office, then we went to the ship ate our supper and here I am. The end.
Students and staff hike up a hill to go sliding!
Journal Entry by Thary Gazi, Shah Alam/ University of Malaya
After days of visiting the surrounding islands of Antarctica, we finally landed on the Antarctic Peninsula. More specifically, it was Neko Harbour. As usual, the smell of well fed penguins greeted us as we came ashore. This time we visited a colony of Gentoo Penguins, which hold the record of being the third largest penguin in the world.
Patches of snow along the colony had a delightful pinkish tone making it look like large areas of some exotic desert. This was the first time that I actually experienced large amounts of snow. It is a very strange substance. Crunchy and slippery. It was like walking on Ais Kacang.
Other activities included plankton netting, ice coring and watching how icebergs are formed. Which I'll leave for the others to describe. An interesting and informative day. (I could write this because we are currently in a bay, which means stable water. I don't mind being on a ship as long as it stays close to land.)
Base ‘A’ on Port Lockroy stands in Antarctica as a bastion of British Consumerism. The most visited place in the Antarctic, it is a souvenir shop in the middle of nowhere. All the proceeds go to the preservation of Historic sites on Antarctica, so at least it’s consumerism for a good cause. It is the only place in the South Pole that you can send mail back home, but with the small catch that the mail will arrive to your home later than you do. I bought two postcards to send home, but then I realized that I’m so dependent on modern technology that I only remember my home address.
Still, despite being surrounded by hundreds of defecating penguins, Base ‘A’ is impressively sturdy for a roughly 60 year old wooden structure. Ironically, the location was chosen because there were no penguins around the area. A site of scientific research since the end of World War II, Base ‘A’ was abandoned in the late sixties but was restored in 1996 by the British Antarctic Survey to it’s current incarnation. It is now Historic Site and Monument No. 61 in the Antarctic Treaty and open all summer long to tourists.
I saw snow falling out of the sky for the first time today. And I can only say that it stings when small pieces of ice are whipped into your face by howling winds.
Student Maéva Gauthier with some Gentoos
Journal Entry by Florian Hofmann and Lukas Sundermann
Ja, man kann noch früher aufstehen. Total müde unterbrechen wir heute mehrfach unser Frühstück, um springende Buckelwale und andere Highlights aus nächster Nähe auf dem Weg durch den Neumayer-Kanal zu erleben. Die erste Landung des Tages fand auf Neko Harbour statt. Eine windgeschützte Bucht in die direkt ein riesiger Eisstrom mündet. Kaum einer beachtet die standardmäßigen Sicherheitswarnungen beim Briefing, der Gletscher könnten kalben und man solle bei lauten Knack-Geräuschen doch bitte ein paar Meter hoher den Strand hinauf gehen. Wir fahren gemütlicher Dinge in Richtung des Landepunktes als mit einem Knall, einer Explosion gleichkommend, ein mindestens 40 Meter hoher Block ins Wasser bricht. Wir verlassen das Boot in Panik und rennen den Strand hinauf, es sollte nicht weit genug sein. Augenblicke später zieht sich das sonst so ruhige Wasser zurück und eine tsunamiartige Flutwelle läuft auf uns zu. Ich (Lukas) kann gerade noch die Kamera packen und rette mich per Kurzsprint ins Trockene. Das war mal verrückt!
Das Programm des Landgangs bestand zu erst einmal aus der Entnahme von Eiskernen aus dem Gletscher mit dem Glaziologie-Kurs. Dabei war auf dem ersten Meter des Eiskernes starke Deformation zu erkennen. Auf den folgenden Metern waren mehrere Lagen von Staub und Schutt-Einschlüssen sichtbar, die ein Jahreszyklus vermuten lasse. Weiterhin teilte uns unser Ornithologe Santiago einiges über die Gentoo-Pinguine und mit der Biologin Marianne haben wir Plankton-Proben aus verschiedenen Wassertiefen zur späteren Analyse entnommen. Auf Neko Harbour findet man eine granitische Intrusion von etwa einem Kilometer Durchmesser von der sternförmig in alle Richtungen Gänge ausgingen. In diesen Pluton sind sekundäre Gänge eingedrungen, die sehr schön ausgeprägte Kontaktaureolen zeigen. Wir konnten gut erkennen, dass diese Gänge NE-SW-orientierten Kluftflächen folgen.
Bei der zweiten Landung auf Port Lockroy haben wir eine britische Station besichtigt, die gleichzeitig auch das einzig offizielle Postamt der Antarktis darstellt. Die Gentoo-Pinguine waren sehr zutraulich und waren viele Küken in vollem Daunenkleid unterwegs. See you tomorrow.
Expedition Leader Geoff Green and Nunavik student Penina Kleist at the top of Deception Island
Journal Entry by Rosie Bettle, Manningtree
When I woke up yesterday morning and looked through the porthole in our cabin, I saw an Antarctica I thought I wouldn’t get to see, as it was jut so wild and beautiful. I got up quickly, and waited for the time we were told to line up to get into the zodiacs, when we would be taken to Neko Harbour. The time came and the place was amazing, in particular the glacier which every now and again would emit a loud rumble of thunder (the only thunder you will hear in Antarctica) as an iceberg calved off from it. Needless to say, at the start of the day, the water which the glacier flowed into was fairly clear. By the end of the landing, it was strewn with ice that had come off the glacier.
Later on in the day, we were taken to Port Lockroy, a British base which, oddly, has a postal service. I sent a few postcards, before watching the penguins, which were used to humans. They would approach you with no fear whatsoever. One penguin started biting my camera, so I now have a pretty odd photo of the inside a penguin’s mouth. The penguin eventually got bored of this, and instead started biting my finger, which luckily wasn’t painful as penguins don’t have a strong bite. All in all, the port was great; the people (and penguins!) were very friendly, and lots of us bought souvenirs from the gift shop (Port Lockroy is the most visited base in Antarctica.)
I had a great day, and I hope the rest of my time here will be just as good!
Malaysian Student Munira Binti Shaipudin Shah on Deception Island
Some Krill on a rock
Malaysian student Thary Gazi on a glacier
Student Marianne Mathis aboard the MV Ushuaia
Students aboard a Zodiac
German Student Florian Hofmann
A charcoal drawing of Penguins by student Cheryl Grabski