Friday, March 18th.
Our first landing on the Antarctic Continent came at 8am on the majestic Brown’s Bluff.
Another volcanic landscape, home to seals, penguins and glaciers. On the tip of the continent we got to see how this vibrant, dramatic landscape was also a comfortable home to so many species.
Team members were in high spirits, excited to explore and climbed a spectacular glacier and were met at the top by Jason and the 2041 Team to learn about and how to navigate crevasses. There was a light breeze and temperatures hovered around -1°C.
Half the team was ashore ascending the glacier, riddled with small holes where volcanic rock had melted down through the glacier itself, the other half of our team were out in Zodiacs spotting Leopard Seals and Humpback Whales!
Suddenly everything changed. An impossibly strong wind rushed down the icy pathways and hit the ocean, people were nearly swept off of their feet and equipment was sent hurtling to the ground. Looking down hill towards the ocean, the blue sky had turned grey and the sea was now dark and inky, waves getting higher and smashing into each other, their own sprays being carried off into the distance by this new forceful gale.
Within 10 minutes the gusts had changed from a reasonable breeze to a full 40 knots, Antarctica had firmly reminded us who was in charge and that we were here on her terms.
The winds made their way down the glacier and across the water whipping up the seas and making for a turbulent, cold and very wet journey back to the ship. It was deemed too choppy for operations to continue and with a large sheet of sea ice headed towards our ship the captain masterfully repositioned the vessel and the zodiacs took shelter behind the iceberg from the threatening waves.
Through skilled negotiating of the rough sea we all safely made it back to the ship and quickly changed from our soaked clothing to warm back up.
Once the team were dried and rested; the sea salt marks now emblazoned on our jackets like battles scars from surviving a fight with the Antarctic sea, everyone was called to the top deck.
We were now gliding through the Antarctic Sound, breathtaking gargantuan tabular icebergs were to our portside, so many were grounded here, their harsh edges creating icy corridors in a maze like fashion, so inviting to venture down but incredibly dangerous. These tabulars where another reminder of our purpose here. They had broken off from an ice-shelf, a worrying sign of climate change with disastrous consequences. Gazing our from the top deck of our ship we were in awe of these cubic forms, strange to see something natural have such a straight edge.
Another fantastic day in an incredible place, we are thrilled to have such a fantastic team that are willing to put up with whatever Antarctica has to throw at them!
Next stop, Portal Point!
Photo credit: Arjun Menon, India
"I haven’t really come across too many images of icebergs under the night sky.
I was intrigued on how they might turn up. Antarctica has some of the clearest skies and all the elements came together. I got lucky with this one."