Our arrival in the South Orkneys was marked by huge numbers of giant icebergs. Doug was so excited that he accidentally sounded the wakeup call a half hour early at 5:30, but a number of people were already out on deck watching the scenery. The landing was at Shingle Cove, which is home to an adelie penguin colony as well as several nesting birds including skuas, pintado petrels, snow petrels, and the omnipresent Wilson’s Storm Petrel (aka “Wilson!”). Craig and I were drafted to help guide people across the rocky terrain to the snow petrel nest, and after a few hours of lying about how fragile the mosses were (“it can take some of these mosses almost a million years to recover from a single human footprint…”) I headed off to photograph a particularly stinky bunch of elephant seals (I tried to capture one sneezing, but elephant seal snot is elusive) and some of the numerous adelie penguins.
We made a lunchtime departure from Shingle Cove, but rather than finish lunch I headed out on deck and discovered a safari of animals on the pack ice. Before we had departed the South Orkneys we must have seen over two hundred seals — leopard, crabeater and Weddell — as well as thousands of adelie and chinstrap penguins on ice flows and hundreds of giant icebergs. We’re now motoring full speed towards Paulet Island in fog, with a planned landing tomorrow afternoon.
Quote of the day (from Rod’s slideshow last night): “For me, getting into a dry suit is like… trying to stuff a squirrel into a Pepsi bottle.”