SOUTHERN OCEAN EXPEDITION: Falklands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula


10 December 2014 --- 10 January 2015



by

Lynn & John Salmon <>{

SOUTHERN OCEAN: Trip in Photos

PART 3: ANTARCTIC PENINSULA

PART 1: The Falklands // PART 2: South Georgia

ELEPHANT ISLAND (Tuesday, 30 December 2014)

Today we will cross 60o south latitude on our way toward Elephant Island. This is the political boundary of the Antarctic according to the Antartic Treaty. South of this latitude, all territorial claims are deferred and all lands are governed by the Antarctic Treaty System.

It is our fourth day at sea, and we are eager to get off the ship. Unfortunately, the weather conditions are not favorable for a landing at Elephant Island, and we are only able to view it from the ship. Shortly after dinner we cruise past Clarence and Elephant Islands and see the lonely windswept place where Shackleton left 22 marrooned men for 134 days.



BROWN BLUFF, ANTARCTICA (Wednesday, 31 December 2014)

We have reached the 7th continent. Our first landing in the Antarctic Peninsula is on The Continent! Our intended landing site had been Paulet Island, but the Weddell Sea is choked with ice, thus preventing our access there.

Brown Bluff is a beautiful setting, with 2,225 foot bluffs of volcanic rock that dominate the landscape. We land along a picturesque rocky beach full of adorable Adelie penguins in addition to nesting Gentoos. j

We have to make a choice as to whether to spend our first 2 hours on land or "zodiac cruising". Lynn has not yet been zodiac cruising, and her initial inclination is to spend the entire 5 hours on land. John, however, notes the weather is warm and sunny and we should take the opportunity to zodiac cruise during ideal conditions. We head out with Ron driving the zodiac and have an enjoyable time viewing the penguins jumping on and off icebergs.

Upon returning to land, we walk a short distance along the beach and find a perfect spot to sit in the sun and watch penguins. We are near the waters edge, and Adelie penguins are coming ashore. Most ignore us and continue along the beach, but the occasional curious penguins takes a look at us, and some even come over and check out these creatures who are sitting on their beach. It's hard to get bored while watching penguins, what a perfect way to end the year!

Back aboard the Ortelius we have a nice dinner with Baked Alaska for dessert. This is followed by a New Year's Eve champagne toast on the top outdoor deck. Sunset is not until nearly 11pm and there is still light in the sky.

More of our Brown Bluff photos



HOPE BAY (Thursday, 1 January 2015)

We had hoped to land near the large Adelie Penguin colony next to the Argentine Base, Esperanza. Nearly half a million penguins throng the icy shores, coming and going from the massive colony which extends up the mountainside on the south side of the bay. Unfortunately, the base commander is unable to give us permission to land today and we can only view the colony by zodiac cruising the bay.

The zodiac cruise is a bit of a dissapointment. We do see three different types of seals in the area, Weddell seals, Crabeater seals, and Leopard seals. Most of the seals are hauled out on icebergs, where they mostly sleep. We spend a large amount of time sitting in the zodiacs next to a sleeping seal hoping for it to open its eyes or yawn. I'm yawning just thinking about it.

Happy New Year!

More of our Hope Bay photos



CIERVA COVE and CUVERVILLE ISLAND, ANTARCTICA (Friday, 2 January 2015)

  • (S64 09 W60 57) and (S64 41 W62 37)
  • Sunrise: 2:53am - Sunset: 11:23pm
  • bird list

Cierva Cove in the Gerlache Strait is home to the largest population of leopard seals on the Antarctic Peninsula. We did see some leopard seals while out on a morning zodiac cruise, but the two highlights of the day were a close encounter with a humpback whale and spotting all three species of brush-tailed penguins hanging out together on one little iceberg.

We set out in a zodiac drive by Yanka, one of the Ortelius crew members. No landings were permitted in the cove area which is an "Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA)" due to the diversity of flora and fauna. This meant that all 10 zodiacs were put into the water simultaneously with close to 10 people per boat. After a bit of sleeping seal watching, things got a bit more interesting as a couple of humpback whales surfaced next to the zodiacs. Even the trip leader, Hugh Rose, was immensely excited and giggling like a litte kid during the whale encounter.

Subsequently, we were lucky enough to be on one of only a couple of zodiacs that cruised by an iceberg with a couple of Adelie penguins, a couple of Gentoos, and one Chinstrap penguin -- all three species of brush-tailed penguins together in one spot.

More of our Cierva Cove photos

We returned to the ship for lunch and proceeded to cruise the Gerlache Strait until dinner time. After dinner, we made an evening landing on Cuverville Island. When Cheeseman emphasizes they have the maximum time in the field, they're not kidding. The last Zodiac didn't return to the ship until 11pm. Sunset was at 11:23pm.

More of our Cuverville photos




PETERMANN ISLAND and BOOTH ISLAND, ANTARCTICA (Saturday, 3 January 2015)

  • (S 65 10.5 W 64 8.2) and (S65 05 W64 0)
  • Sunrise: 2:51am - Sunset: 11:52pm
  • bird list

We hoped to do an "ice walk" from the ship this morning and spent some time cruising through the iceberg studded waters of Grandidier Channel looking for a spot with "solid" ice. Alas, we didn't find a sufficiently dense spot to allow us to walk down from the ship onto the sea ice. Despite, the lack of "walkable" ice, the pack ice was extensive enough to block easy passage to the Antarctic Circle and our proposed landing spot of Detaille Island. Ultimately we turned around at a small iceberg with a sleeping seal on it reaching the southernmost point of: S 65 26.51 W 64 29.01

We headed back north and made a landing on Petermann Island after lunch. Petermann Island is home to many pairs of nesting Gentoos as well as 8 nesting pairs of shags, all of which had chicks at the time of our visit. We explored and learned a little geology thanks to an Earth-cache.

More of our Petermann Island photos

After dinner, we wrapped up our day with an evening landing on Booth Island and a surreal nighttime zodiac cruise in Pleneau Bay (aka Iceberg Alley). We had fun tasting some of the ice for an Earth-cache and had some fun discussion with the other passengers about what we were doing. We also saw a mixed group of Arctic and Antarctic Terns with mixed summer and winter plumage.

More of our Booth Island photos



YALOUR ISLAND and PORT LOCKROY plus JOUGLA POINT (Sunday, 4 January 2015)

  • (S65 14 W64 10) and (S64 49.515 W63 29.68)
  • Sunrise: 2:45am - Sunset: 11:49pm
  • bird list

Our first stop of the day is a small group of low lying islands discovered and named by the French Antarctic expedition of 1903-1905. Lieutenant Yalour was an officer of the Argentine ship, Uruguay, which rescued members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition in November, 1903. We saw many more nesting Gentoo penguins and also spotted some local plant species.

More of our Yalour Island photos

Our second stop was a visit to the historic British Antarctic Survey (BAS) base known as Port Lockroy. It the most visited location in Antarctica and home to the "Penguin Post" post office where it's hard not to step on a Gentoo while walking around. Port Lockroy was formerly "Base A" of the secret WWII British mission built in 1944 to report on (non-existent) German activities and provide weather reports. From the end of the war until abandonment in 1962, Lockroy became an important site for ionospheric science and other research. It has been restored into a museum.

On our visit, I also found the Base A Port Lockroy geocache. I was the first one off the zodiac, and went straight into the post office where the helpful staff handed me the cache. We explored the museum at some length and talked to all 4 of the people who staff the station.

More of our Port Lockroy photos

Due to a size limit of 50 on visiting passengers, half of our compliment landed nearby at Jougla Point while the other half visited the musuem and post office site at Port Lockroy. The two groups switched half-way through the landing.

More of our Jougla Point photos





NEKO HARBOUR and DANCO ISLAND (Monday, 5 January 2015)

  • (S64 50.6 W62 32.69) and (S64 44 W62 36)
  • Sunrise: 2:48am - Sunset: 11:47pm
  • bird list

Neko Harbor was our last continental landing along the Gerlache Strait. It is a beautiful protected anchorage and offered the opportunity for joining the Antarctic Penguin Club for those brave enough to swim in the waters. We had a relaxing zodiac cruise before landing and had to be rescued after our zodiac's motor failed. Once on land, we got great looks at chinstrap penguins before John took the plunge and had a refreshing swim.

In the afternoon, we visited Danco Island and had fun watching the penguin highways.

More of our Neko Harbour and Danco Island photos.


DECEPTION ISLAND (Tuesday, 6 January 2016)

  • S62 58 W60 30
  • Sunrise: 2:52am - Sunset: 11:00pm

We hoped to make a landing on Baily Head this morning, but seas were rough and conditions didn't permit the stop. We instead cruised through Neptune's Bellows into the active caldera of Deception Island. The passage into the volacano was narrow and the ship's crew asked for silence on the bridge while they charted the course and executed the trip safely in and out.

An alternate landing site on Half Moon Island was made later in the afternoon. Conditions were not optimal and everyone was rushed back on board after a short stint on the rocky beach.

A few photos from the day



THE DRAKE PASSAGE to the BEAGLE CHANNEL and USHUAIA (7-9 January 2015)

The Drake Passage is famous for its storms, but we have relatively calm seas for our voyage north. The two days are spent watching birds off the deck of the Ortelius, attending lectures on board ship, and having a charity auction to raise funds for rat eradication on South Georgia.

Here is a collection of photos from our time at sea abord the Ortelius and some of the people on our trip

We stopped in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia on the way to and from our trip and did a little birding at each locale.

And, we must include some photos of the PHOTO BOMBING GENTOO!!!



THE END

Lynn Salmon <>{


Trip totals include:

  • 3888 nautical miles
  • 90 new birds
  • 9 geocaches

Southern Ocean Trip in Photos