(Click on any image below for a larger version)
Monday, January 22: Cape Lookout, Elephant Island, page 1
The ship hauled up its anchor and set sail for Cape Lookout on the other side of Elephant Island, where we would make our first actual landing in the Antarctic. I could see bergie bits floating on the water outside my stateroom window as we cruised around the island.
A Humpback Whale was spotted in the water near the ship. Captain Notke steered the ship in a circle to give the passengers a good chance to see the whale. It blew and surfaced repeatedly for several minutes. As we watched for the whale from the stern of the ship we heard the crowd at the bow give a shout in unison. Geoff Green announced over the loudspeakers that the whale had just breached directly in front of the ship.
Visit the American Cetacean Society fact sheet about the Humpback Whale.
The Marine Mammal Center also has information about the Humpback Whale.
We passed a huge glacier as we neared Cape Lookout.
The old ice at the base of the glacier was deep blue in color. The blue ice was overlain by an accumulation of white snow and young ice. The top of the glacier was a maze of crevasses.
The front of the glacier was miles across and it extended well out into the harbor.
There was a glacier in every valley on the island.
The valleys were so steep that the glaciers were broken into jumbled icefalls, slowly tumbling their way down to sea level.
Glaciers were perched on the tops of the mountains, with their broken faces suspended over a few thousand feet of steep, rocky cliffs. Any ice that broke away from those glaciers had a long drop ahead of it.
Cape Lookout is marked by a craggy, pyramid-shaped island separated from the shore by a narrow strait.
We would land on the low spit of land at the left.
The cape is the site of another large Chinstrap Penguin rookery. The lighter slopes in this picture are stained by pink Chinstrap Penguin guano.
The ship's staff prepared the Zodiacs for our first landing in Antarctica.
The Zodiac brought us to shore on a narrow, cobblestone spit connecting a rock outcrop to the main island.
The expedition members kept to a narrow path alongside the rookery.
Once again, Dad proved that he was not a slave to fashion.
Chinstrap Penguins are easily distinguished by the narrow black stripe under the white face.
Background information about the Chinstrap Penguin.
The Chinstrap Penguin rookery was thickly coated in pink penguin guano. The constant dampness supported a thick, old fish market kind of odor.
Dirty Chinstrap Penguins were constantly waddling into the water as clean penguins were hauling themselves onto land along the spit.
The air was filled with the constant display cries of male penguins looking for mates.
Hear the Chinstrap Penguins.
"I don't know. Where do you want to go for dinner?"
Chinstrap Penguin chicks sat waiting patiently for their parents to return with food.
Chick feeding was a constant operation in the rookery. The gray chicks tickled the beaks of the adults to trigger a regurgitation of the krill stored in their crops. It was possible to see the pink, shrimp-like crustaceans come up into the mouths of the adults before the chicks reached in to grab them. Krill grow to be nearly two inches long, and large krill wouldn't look out of place on a cocktail shrimp platter.
The downy chicks accumulated a crust of guano on the lower parts of their bodies.
The Chinstrap Penguin chicks rested their heads behind their wings as they napped.
The penguins paid scant attention to the Zodiacs cruising through the strait.
The flat areas near the rocky outcrop were covered in penguins. Other penguins had to climb to higher ground to find a place to raise their chicks.
Some of them climbed several hundred feet up the slope to find their chicks.
It must take hours for some of them to climb up to their chicks on the mountainside above the cape.
Map of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Send a message to Brian.