Monday, January 28, 2013

Antarctic Adventures - Penguins are Adorable

Throughout the course of the trip I took video of penguins (because they are hilarious and adorable). In lieu of bringing back a live penguin, which was requested but essentially impossible, I assembled video clips and edited my little summary of favourites and cutest penguin-i-ness. Then I put it on youtube. Now it's also here.

Richard Alley (also on the trip - awesome, right?) captured an amazing clip of penguins that he also put on youtube, so I might as well share that with you too:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Antarctic Adventures - Livingston Island - South Shetlands

Our final landing before the Drake Passage was on Livingston Island where we saw the only "flowering" plants of the Antarctic - in flower! In addition, we were blasted by the most horrendous of foul stenches imaginable. So horrendous they were, in fact, unimaginable. Consequently I bee-lined for the rocks as far away from the horrifying odors as possible.

Day 19:
Cobbles and lichen at peninsula Hurd
The to Hannah Point all covered in turds
The penguins were sharting
Elephant seals farting
And plant fossils for geology nerds

Hairy lichen - in "flower"

"Pixie Cups"

Hairy lichen

Plant fossils!


Antarctic Adventures - Port Lockroy & Neko Harbor

This was our final landing in the Antarctic before heading north. Port Lockroy is a British research station that has been around for several decades, and naturally, being British, has a post office. Part of the station has a "museum" set up the way Antarctic scientific research was done in the 40's and 50's (it's basically just preserved, complete with food, from that time). It was really cool, and this is where I sent a few postcards. Mail from here goes by boat to the Falklands, then military plane to the UK, then enters the British postal system!

Day 18:
Postcards were sent from British Base A
Then back on ship for BBQ day
Humpbacks, zodiacs
Snowslides on our backs
Then from the Antarctic we sailed away

Food shelf!

Recipe book, complete with instructions for penguins, seals and cormorants

I knitted a vengeful fur seal, here it is looking satisfied after a hearty whale snack. Picked those bones clean!

Weddell seal

Neko Harbor sunset

Antarctic Adventures - Cuverville & Booth Islands

Cuverville and Booth Islands, just along the Antarctic Peninsula, were both spectacular. Spectacular ice, sunset, and penguin chick cuteness.

Day 17:
Today truly feels Antarctic
Gentoos stealing stones and feeding chicks
Leopard seals afloat
On ice near our boat
Icebergs at midnight - all over too quick

Line of porpoising penguins in the foreground of a spectacular scene

Porpoising Gentoos near calving glacier front

Penguin highway

Gentoo chicks eating barfed up krill


Gorgeous iceberg

Leopard seal

 Metamorphosed, sheared & folded iceberg!

Rather phenomenal sunset

I couldn't resist!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Antarctic Adventures - Deception Island - South Shetlands

Deception Island is a volcano that most recently erupted in 1969. Immediately prior to that eruption, it was home to a British base for research and "strategic positioning". Prior to that, it was a whaling station (of course). I bet you can't guess what caused the destruction here...

Day 16:
On Deception Isle the wind did blow
While we explored the pyroclastic flow
Went for a polar swim
On a geothermal whim
What a wild day, what a volcano!

Chinstraps on steaming cinder beach, British base (ghost "town") in the background

British base remnants, volcanic background

Pyroclastic flow, sweet blocks, lapilli & cinders lodged in this tuff!

Pretty sweet glassy pahoehoe core in this scoria block (also didn't take this home with me... sigh)

Whaling station "water boat" - possibly was used to cart fresh water out to the whaling ships that operated on steam

Most ridiculously unbelievable thing I have done (possibly) - while the sand was steaming, let's just keep in mind the fact that the air temp was freezing and the water temp was 1ºC, so the 16ºC sand was warm by comparison... but not THAT warm... Also, winds happened to be blowing 50-60 kph.

Antarctic Adventures - King George Island & Hope Bay

King George Island was a "where can we land for just a little bit to please please please get a break from being on this ship" stop.

Day 14:
Stormy swells, sea ice and rain
Caused us to detour again
The Brazilian base
Was a haunted place
Where whale bones, among wreckage, were lain

Whale vertebrae make good chairs

The following day we set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula at Esperanza (Hope Bay), which is a base that the Argentines operate year round in an attempt to "colonize" Antarctica. They get married and have babies there. Yes, they do.

Day 15:
At Esperanza we arrived
To Adelies in 4-wheel drive
A hike near Mt. Flora
On the peninsula
Then a passage, through pack ice, survived

Icebergs are neat

Jellyfish? What? Why? How?

Really cool erratic with a fault perpendicular to bedding

Totally freaking awesome plant fossils that I didn't take for fear of Argentinian jail

Adelie penguins refusing to give me a hug

 Adelie penguins in "4-wheel drive"

A rainbow in a cloud

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Antarctic Adventures - Elephant Island - Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout was a spectacular geologic dream. Gorgeous metamorphic rocks, gorgeous glacial striations, cute penguins doing cute things, till littered with perfect hand samples of gorgeous metamorphic features that we were not supposed to take home. Dream? Oh wait, nightmare!

Day 13:
In search of the elusive blueschist
We found an abundance of poo-schist
Chinstraps and Macaronis
Gentoos and an Adelie
And then serpentinite with a twist

Red band is garnetiferous-chert, if you will!

Hot damn! Those are some sexy folds!

Hey, it's the elusive blueschist!

Yes, I AM the only Adelie penguin kicking around here. What's it to ya?

A Chinstrap penguin pulling off the "cute and cuddly" mantra of the Penguins of Madagascar

Evidence that Gentoo penguin chicks are the cutest things ever. Yes, that one is parked on top of an elephant seal.

Just in case you needed more evidence of cuteness, Gentoo chicks take naps on their bellies on rocks, and even snore a little. If you don't think they are the cutest things ever, you have no soul. "Greenschist is comfy!"

Antarctic Adventures - Elephant Island - Point Wild

After a couple more days at sea we arrived at Elephant Island. On this particular day the sea was too rough to manage a landing at Point Wild, but we managed to putter around (wetly) in a zodiac to look at stuff. Puttering around wetly for me means a lot of looking and not much photo taking.

Day 12:
We boated out to Elephant Isle
Chinstrap penguins porpoised 'round Point Wild
A leopard seal
Hunted its meal
And we watched humpback whales for miles


Chinstraps running in for bath time

Antarctic Adventures - South Georgia - St Andrews Bay

Day 9:
Three hundred thousand King penguins
And the Jabba the Hut inspiration
Caused a terrible stench
On the wave-cut bench
Of the glaciated and folded formations

Jabba the Hutt was most definitely inspired by a bull elephant seal. Holy mother of pearl do those animals smell like nothing you have ever experienced before. Imagine if you took a San Francisco hobo alley and soaked it in a prison toilet and then layered it beneath effluence from Edinburgh's "gardy-loo" days. That's probably pretty close to elephant seal aroma.

Sweet flame structures in Sandebugten formation turbidites

The view of St. Andrew's Bay from the toe of a glacier retreating at a very respectful 1 meter/day. The meltwater stream rushing out from it was most impressive.

Ice-cored moraine! Right in the middle! Can you see it?
Jabba the Hut inspiration roaring foul stench on Rudolph Trouw. Ian Dalziel in background headed toward Cumberland Bay turbidites. This is not my photo! Photo courtesy of Ann Laubach.

Obligatory beautiful view photo. Mountains, moraine, penguins, reflection, etc.

Obligatory beautiful King penguin photo (penance for capturing that one looking over its shoulder at poop earlier...)

Antarctic Adventures - South Georgia - Godthul

I suffered "land-sickness" on this day, so on account of that, I don't have much in the way of visuals. Some of us hiked from Godthul to Sandebugten, in places tracing the contact of the Cumberland Bay turbidites with the Sandbugten turbidites. In the afternoon we went to Gryviken, another old whaling station (the last one operating actually), which is now part of a British Antarctic Survey base/research station. We were there January 5th, which happens to be the day that Shackleton died 91 years ago, so we gave a toast at his grave.

Day 8:
Around we went to Cumberland Bay
Avoiding the icebergs in our way
We honored the brave
At Shackleton's grave
Ninety-first "death-iversary" day

Gentoo penguin chicks are pretty much the cutest things ever (more evidence of this to come)

Pretty nice view of isoclinal folds in the Sandebugten turbidites