Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Neko Harbour and Hannah Point

Posted from Drake Passage at 9:00 pm, January 21st, 2006

In addition to being the last day on the Antarctic Peninsula, today will go down in history as the first time a penguin ever threw up on me. First, catching up from yesterday, after zodiac cruising in Paradise Harbour we enjoyed another barbecue and then moved to Neko Harbour for an evening landing. For the first time I chose not to go ashore, and instead spent the time with Rod, Marlene, and Peckerhead Bob photographing the amazing mountain scenery from the top deck of the ship. The evening festivities later moved to the bar and lasted until 2:00 AM, and it was with a major struggle that I stumbled out of bed this morning.

Today after lunch we arrived in warm (around 40° F) but overcast conditions at Hannah Point, and after my final shift unloading zodiacs I spent the remainder of the day with the gentoo, chinstrap, and macaroni penguins, as well as a wallow of about sixty grumpy and sneezy elephant seals piled on top of one another. The gentoo penguin chicks were particularly curious, and while taking photos I noticed several gathered around me. When I sat down they practically jumped on top of me, and for fifteen minutes it was like playing with puppies. The weather started to get nasty, so I put the camera gear away and roamed the beach a bit before sitting down with another gentoo chick. The little bugger was nipping at my glove and snuggling up to my boots, and it was a great moment until looked up at me with his nice little face, started shaking his head in a really cute way, and then sprayed penguin vomit all over me. I wasn’t terribly disgusted (although I did run down to the water to clean up) but can say with authority that for such a small critter, penguins hold a LOT of vomit.

Rod, Marlene, Craig, Ted, myself and a few others were the last to leave the landing, and after a bit of a battle to figure out who would have the honor of being the last person on land Rod and Ted pushed us off and we said goodbye to what is almost certainly the greatest place on earth. Our forecast over the next two days is for storms in the Drake Passage, so after a month of calm seas it looks like there may be a few folks missing at mealtime before we return to port.

Gentoo Penguin at Hannah Point

Gentoo penguin being “chick-chased” at Hannah Point.

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