Notes from Antarctica

Now that we are at sea and there is not much to do, I thought I would write a bit about some of the general impressions of things.

Weather: We really experienced a wide range, but accouding to the naturalists and leaders on the ship, we have been very luckie. The temperature has never really gone below 32 (f). However, we have had some very fierce winds (35- 45 knots) on a few days and that has made that temperature bone chilling. We have had many sunny days and I did end up with a bit of a sunburn and I believe I will be coming back with a tanned face. Only one day did it snow a little bit, but other than that we have had no rain or snow and it has been cloudy to clear most days.

Smells: I had heard from some folks, my Mom included that the smell of penguin poop (guano) could be overpowering. What I actually noticed was that I smelled it when we first approached a landing on the zodiacs, but then the I would get used to it. Some landings I really didn’t smell it at all and on the Kayaks, I don’t recall any smells.

Death: I have not written about some of the more brutal things that I have seen, but there has been a lot. The skua is one of the prime offenders as it snatches the eggs and chicks of the penguins. The leapard seal also feeds on the penguins is savage in the way it eats the penguins. I can’t even begin to count how many broken eggs, penguin skeltons and chick corpses I have seen. We have asked the naturalists that travel with us about this, and they have explained that the penguins life span is 15-20 years. With the exception of the first 2 years, each pair of penguins can produce up to 2 chicks per season. If there were no penguin preditors, Antarctica would most likely be wall-to-wall penguins.

-Colin

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