Of Islands, Krill and Views

Today is looking to be a busy day with 3 landings planned. The first one was on Yalour Island, where once again we saw some great views and more penguins along with the smell that goes along with any penguin colony. This too is something that is almost indescribable, but I will try. The Penguin adults fish for Krill in the waters around the peninsula and islands. Krill is a small crustacean that is maybe up to 50mm long or so and feeds mainly on algae and other things it can filter out of the water. The adults feed the chicks by regurgitating the Krill and feeding it directly to them, with the chicks sticking their beaks as far as they can down their parent’s throats, even so there is some spillage occasionally. What goes in must come out and this process goes on for months. So there is digested krill scented poo everywhere, on the rock, the snow, the ice. Penguins do not discriminate in that regard. You can smell the colony before you can see it or hear it. It is all part of the nutrient cycle. Algae and plankton utlilise the nutrients in the poo, the algae feeds the krill, which is classified as a zooplankton, and so on. Coming back to the Zodiac there was a Giant Southern Petrel trying to round up one of the bunched together penguin chicks. Unsuccessfully this time.

First stop after lunch was Port Charcot on Booth Island, which was the site of the first intentional over-wintering in Antarctica. A short walk up a Snow slope took us to a cairn with a cross and a view. Then back onto the Zodiac for trip across the bay to Plenau Island. More penguins on the rocks near the landing site.

This time a longer walk up a snow covered ridge led to the best view so far. And at times a full feeling of the remoteness of where I was. As the walk was longer and steeper not everyone attempted it. At times it was just me. And the Silence. I didn’t lift my camera for minutes and just stood there and absorbed the sensation of being. Here. Snow clouds were drifting past in the distance over the icebergs to the west in the Southern Ocean. There were ever changing patches of sunlight illuminating parts of the seas and individual bergs. I did recover my senses and tried doing justice to what I saw with my camera. I do not think anyone could succeed fully on that front in that place and time with those views.



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