Seabourn’s First Landing in Antarctica: Admiralty Bay and Arctowski Station
Seabourn Quest reached Half Moon Island early morning, our planned destination for today. We slowly approached the island hoping the weather conditions were favorable for the ship and the zodiacs. The conditions looked harsh and as we waited, we could feel and see the effects of the wind around the ship. During breakfast we were informed that we did not have safe conditions for operations; however that didn’t mean the end of the day, and the ship repositioned during the morning to an alternative area where we hoped to find shelter for the ship. We went from Half Moon towards King George Island to Admiralty Bay where the Polish Antarctic Station Arctowski is located. We received permission from the station commander to come ashore, and soon after lunch, we embarked the zodiacs for our first landing in Antarctica.
When we arrived ashore, we walked down the pebble beach in front of Arctowski Station, where we a member of the expedition team, Roger, gave a brief overview of a penguin carcass. Roger showed us the feet and claws of the penguin -- amazing how sharp the bird’s claws are. Penguins spend a lot of time hopping up over rocks and ice as well as snow.
We wandered further down the beach and few of us almost ran into a juvenile male elephant seal. He was hauled out on the beach, taking a siesta, looking very much like all the other gray boulders around him. This particular seal had not yet reached maturity and was, therefore, swimming around, putting on weight and slowly growing into an 8,000 pound beast. He will then have a chance to fight for a harem of females.
Finally, we arrived at our destination. There were Adelie penguins everywhere. They were making their way along the beach and up over the snow to their rookery. Those Adelies are cute! We also saw Gentoos and one lone Chinstrap penguin toward the end of the day.
|Seabourn Quest in beautiful Antarctica|
Mariano and Mary of the expedition team gave us running commentary on the penguins, answered our questions and showed us some Adelie penguin eggs that had been “skewed” by Skuas. This is the time of year when the big brown Skuas find penguin rookeries so that they can feast on the eggs and then, later, on the chicks.
There were also plenty of lichens, grasses and mosses around the penguin colony, and whale bones were scattered all along the beach.
Most of us visited the little shop manned by the Polish researchers at the Arctowski Station. The station is named in honor of Henryk Arctowski, the geologist on Adrien de Gerlaches’s Belgica expedition of 1897-99, the first Antarctica expedition to focus on scientific research.
~ Chris Srigley
At long last, Arty, Seabourn’s Antarctic ambassador, is returning home!!
Staff Captain Krasimir Radev and Third Officer Anna Ejankowska went ashore to meet the Arctowski Station scientist. They were welcomed heartily and were even allowed the Seabourn flag to be raised at the station! Pictured here with the Arctowski Station scientist (left) are Third Officer Ejankowska (middle) and Staff Captain Radev (right) proudly hoisting the Seabourn flag!
It’s official! Seabourn has arrived in Antarctica!
(Top: An Adelie penguin looks across the bay at Seabourn Quest.)
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