Ho hum, just another boring day in the Antarctic. We've seen newly-hatched Adelie chicks, enjoyed three separate whale sightings, and viewed an iceberg breaking in two due to nothing more than the change in balance caused when a leopard seal dove off the berg. Oh yes, and enjoyed some more gloriously sunny weather in the late afternoon/early evening.
We anchored at Palmer Station last night, which means that there was zero wave movement, and also, no changing scenery to observe until the wee hours, so everyone is well rested this morning. We go ashore at Torgersen Island, which is home to a colony of Adelie penguins, and they have just started to hatch their chicks. The male and female mates take turns tending to the chicks, so it's impossible to tell which is the mother and which is the father. This trip is a little early for most of the chick hatching, so we're glad to have at least one chance to see the furry little guys. The colony is being watched by skuas, who are looking for an opportunity to take one of the chicks from a neglectful parent. No carnage while I was watching, but later on, we hear that some passengers witnessed a successful skua attack.
Next up is a visit to Palmer Station, which is the U.S. research facility located on the Antarctic Peninsula. The U.S. also has the McMurdo station off of the Ross Sea and the station at the South Pole. This facility is home to 29 people - there are both men and women here, so they seem a bit better adjusted than those Ukranian boys. Instead of homemade vodka, the treat for visitors here are the brownies baked by the station chef.
Back to the boat for lunch, as we head back to Port Lockroy to drop off our British visitors. Along the way, we come across some humpback whales, the first of 4 whale sightings of the day. After dropping off the Lockroy folks, we head north toward Dallman bay, cruising through more breathtaking scenery, and once again, the sun has come out.
The crew prepares an interesting variation on afternoon tea today, beer and hotdogs on the back deck of the boat, and everyone is out enjoying the nice weather when we get our second whale alert of the day. Another group of humpback whales have appeared in the channel, and these are more active than the last group, so this brings a speedy end to afternoon tea as everyone rushes to the front of the boat, cameras in hand.
After the whales, we cruise along enjoying the beautiful weather and the mountain/iceberg scenery. Two more whale sightings, but we pass by them quickly since we have places to go. We're heading north for the open waters and will be re-entering the Drake Passage tonight, so this is our last chance to enjoy the ice and mountains before two days at open sea. We enter the passage after dinner, and start to feel the wave action pick up, but so far it's milder than the trip down - for Jen's sake (as well as for everyone else), I hope it stays that way.