Saturday, December 27, 2008

Petermann Island

Today we took the zodiacs out to Petermann Island, where Jean-Baptiste Charcot wintered in 1909 with his boat the Pourquoi-Pas?. The island is home colonies of Gentoo Penguins and Adelie Penguins. Thousands of penguins were all around. The Gentoos are my favorite I think. They build rock nests, and several had chicks at different ages. Jason filmed a Jentoo building his wife a rock nest. We set out a few rocks we had picked up from a short distance away. He was delirious with joy at seeing the four rocks and quickly scooped them up, one at a time, in his bill. Then he spent a few minutes earnestly searching that same area for any more. Once he realized there were no more, he tried to steal a rock from another nest and was promptly bit in the bum. 

The island also has a bright red building which is an emergency refuge in case someone is stranded. We hiked around in our heavy rubber boots. We have the Fort McMurray special; -40 rubber boots, steel toed, with grips on them deeper than the best winter tires. 

I have attended several lectures. I think thus far I have enjoyed the lecture on ice the best. It detailed everything from the chemical composition, how it forms, to bergs, and ice caves. Do you know what a chunk of floating is is called if it is between 1 and 5 meters (area seen above the water)? It is a Bergy Bit. If it is over 5 meters it is an Ice Berg. And if it just a wee thing less than 1 meter visible it is a growler. These ice bergs and chunks are made of fresh water. The portion you see of an ice berg is approximately 1/9 of the total size with the remainder hidden under water. 

Another favorite aspect of the trip is the evening re-cap. Each night the staff do a presentation that combines power point, video, pictures, lecture etc on the days events and sights. The re-cap today had an amazing microscope view of arthropods and plankton shown on the projection screen. One of my favorite things is when they show the footage from their undersea camera (called a ROV) that can go up to a thousand feet. They showed footage tonight that was taken yesterday. We saw amazing creatures; snails with amoebas living on them (they work together; the amoeba gets a free ride through the muck while the snail gets protection because of the amoeba’s stingers), prawn, krill, a tiny octopus, starfish, and so on. 

I am also reading the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer about the true story of Chris McCandles, a vagabond, who travelled across the USA, and who died from suspected starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. I also watched the movie by the same name, and while both are good, I think the book is better as it goes into greater detail. 

Tomorrow promises to be just as exhilarating as all those before it. We are planning a trip to Port Lockroy, where we can actually purchase a few souvenirs. It was a British base that is now a museum, and a post office! 

Click to see the PHOTO ALBUM

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