25th March: Antarctica (Argentine Islands and Vernadsky Station)

Two zodiac trips during the day: In the morning we went to visit the nearby Gentoo penguin colony and in the afternoon we visited the historic Faraday Hut. In the evening the ship headed off for Pleneau Island and I photographed some waves in front of the ship as illuminated by the ship’s searchlight.

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Here we are enroute to the penguin colony, east of Vernadsky Station, though obviously I’m photographing a different zodiac. This shows well the different colours of the ice.

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A gentoo penguin at the colony, limbering up and expressing itself.

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While everyone else was photographing the penguins at the colony, I was struck by the background, the stairway to heaven.

GPS Location. . (but note that this is the location of the camera, not the mountains, which I think were to the north. Also note that the GPS map is in winter, with much more ice than we encountered.)

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Panorama with ship and iceberg.

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The same iceberg closer up, with distant birds.

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Ice cave with buttresses. This is now in the afternoon and we are now west of Vernadsky Station.

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Weddell seal at rest.

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Icicles.

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Sea cave under the ice.

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The vivid colours in the ice are almost reminiscent of a thermal area.

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Ice patterns.

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Ice hole.

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Wordie House, Port Fitzroy. This is the original British base, preserved as a museum. This is where they might spend a whole winter.

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Back at the subtropical paradise of Vernadsky Station.

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In the evening we headed off towards Plenau Island, carefully navigating using the ship’s searchlight to avoid icebergs. This is a shot of waves off the bow of the ship, taken at night using the glow of the searchlight as the light source.

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24th March: Antarctica (Argentine Islands – Morning)

Having arrived in Vernadsky Station, we had several days to explore the surrounding area while the ship unloaded the supplies for the station for the winter. Here are some of the views from the zodiac:

Seal, variety not recorded

Gentoo Penguins

Blue Eyed Cormorant - but it's a juvenie so the eyes aren't yet blue

Maybe a cannonball fired in an intergalactic war ...

Ice, rocks and snow. The shape of the snow on the rock reminds me of cromagnon cave painting of wild cattle from Southern France some 20,000 or so years old.

A couple of humpback whales, massive enough in themselves though dwarfed by the scale of the landscape

Going down ...

Just a bit of tail

We’d been out for maybe an hour and a half and now came in for lunch. The images from the afternoon will follow in the next post.

23rd March: Antarctica (Great Wall Station, King George Island)

Great Wall Station

Early in the morning we had reached the Chinese Great Wall station near the southern end of King George Island.

Inside the Great Wall Station

At about 8:30am we jumped into the zodiacs for a cruise around and a visit to the Chinese station.

Gentoo Penguins and mountains near Great Wall Station, King George Island

There were lots of gentoo penguins standing around on the shore, many moulting, the odd cormorant and a few skuas.

The return trip was rather eventful. The engine repeatedly failed on our zodiac. We eventually got back to the ship and one person disembarked before the zodiac was swept away again. They decided to hoist the zodiac on board but we were too heavy for that so we had to transfer to another zodiac at sea. This was not made easier by having to carry my heavy photographic pack inside a water proof bag. I quickly worked out that trying to straddle two zodiacs in the surging sea was not a viable option so I dived from one to the other when they were together. It all worked well enough in the end.