Update # 4
At 17:00 hrs on Friday March 2nd – an iceberg was spotted! As I went out on deck to see my first ever iceberg I was filled with a massive sense of awe at the sheer size of it bobbing alongside the ship. It literally took my breath away. The best part was the waves crashing up against in. The right hand side of it had been carved away and was in the shape of an “L”. It made me smile – L for Lianne’s first ever iceberg!! 🙂
Saturday March 3rd – Morning
Today at approx 09:40 we officially crossed the Antarctic circle at 66 degrees and 33 mins south. This was a special moment as not many expeditions come as far south as this. We all headed out onto the bow of the ship to celebrate this occasion. Icebergs of all different sizes were visible in every direction and the Antarctic Peninsula could be seen in the distance. We were in Antarctica!! Rob made a speech highlighting how lucky we all were to come this far south and to respect the environment of the greatest wilderness on earth. This was the moment when I felt like I was actually in Antarctica and with its massive presence looming in the distance I got a little emotional. It had been over a year of preparing, fundraising and strengthening my leg for this moment, and it was finally here. I think Rob was also emotional as he was walking around hugging and shaking hands with the group. Having watched him interact with others over the passed week I have come to see that he is an extremely caring individual and has an extraordinary ability to make each of us feel special and to let us know how proud he is of us. Overall it was a pretty special moment and as he passed me by, I got a hand squeeze, which made it all the more meaningful.
Saturday – 3rd March Afternoon
This island lies off the northwestern side of Andersen Island and about 6km off the western coast of the Palmer Peninsula in the northern part of the Lallemand Fjord. It was discovered by the French Antarctic Expedition (1908 – 10) under Charcot, who named it for Monsieur Detaille of Punta Arenas, a shareholder in the Magellan Whaling company, who assisted Charcot in obtaining supplies at the company’s whaling base at Deception island.
En-route to Detaille Island, we cruised past a couple of Crabeater seals who were having a snooze. Deep scars ran the width of the large male’s body, probably caused by an attack from a Leopard seal. On Detaille Island we visited an abandoned British base station hut (Station W). It was built in 1956 for an ongoing survey of geological and meteorological work. It was abandoned in 1959 after the ship that came to collect the scientists could not break through the winter sea ice so the scientists had to leave the hut and trek to the ship. Therefore the base remains in good condition and consists of original artefacts, clothing, books etc from 1959. It is conserved and managed by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. Inside the hut, it felt like the men had literally grabbed a few items and made a run for it. Their personal belongings were strewn around the hut. The best part of the visit was finding several tins on the kitchen shelf of “Dollar Scotch Oats” made at 24 Castle Street Edinburgh and a picture of Dunvegan castle in Skye on the tin.
Outside the hut, on the hillside overlooking Crystal Sound, I saw my first penguins – a small group of Adelie penguins which included two chicks. We watched for a while and laughed as all the penguins seemed to waddle away from one penguin as if they didn’t want to be near him/her. That penguin kept looking over their shoulder. It was a prime opportunity for us to make up captions for the lone penguin “is it something I said?” “Do I smell”?
En route back to the ship we were lucky enough to see two Humpback whales gliding through the water and giving us a quick flash of their tails and an explosion of water through their blowhole!
At night I gave a short presentation to the group about how I have recently been reducing my own personal impact and making better choices about the products I buy. I explained that I was inspired from meeting Maria from Bangkok Soap Opera and her mission to make body care products that are kind to ourselves and kind to the environment, as when the products are washed off in the shower they are not causing any harmful chemicals to enter the drains and water systems which could then go on to harm plant and animal life. I also explained that the Bangkok Soap Opera mission is to educate others and raise awareness about sustainability through hosting workshops. The group thought this was a great way to pass the message and were particularly interested in the project to recycle used cooking oil into liquid soap. The aim was to demonstrate this process, however, I could not find Potassium Hydroxide in Ushuaia which is an essential ingredient in the process. Instead, I will share the process through a series of pictures and I hope that a few people on this expedition will be inspired to take this back to their own communities. Bangkok Soap Opera had kindly given me one bar of natural soap for all the expedition members and everyone was extremely grateful. Thank you, Maria!
Sunday 4th March – Morning
Last night we sailed through Crystal sound via the inside passage of the Antarctic peninsula’s deep southern route. This morning we arrived at the Fish Islands. They are located to the west of Prospect point, off the western extremity of Graham Land. The Individual islands are named after different species of fish such as Flounder and the islets are known as The Minnows.
We did a zodiac tour of the area – The islands are low lying and we observed a few colonies of Adelie penguins. The islands have around 4,000 breeding pairs. It was a great opportunity to sit and observe the penguins behaviour and have a few giggles at them walking and interacting with each other. We also saw cormorants and a crabeater seal (which reminds me of a giant ice slug) wake up and shuffle awkwardly along the sea ice and slip elegantly into the water.
Tabular iceberg above
This area is well known for stunning glacier scenery and tabular icebergs which have broken off from ice shelves further south in the Bellingshausen sea. Our zodiac guide also gave us some info on different types of icebergs: Large icebergs that break off from ice shelves are called tabular icebergs. The ice that breaks off these tabular icebergs are called bergy bits and the ice that subsequently breaks off that are called brash! We also learned that sea ice is ice that forms from the sea freezing over in winter. The salt on this sea ice is removed after a year as it leeches out through the bottom in the form of Stalactites and the underneath of the sea ice forms a tentacle-like appearance.
Tonight we will continue to sail north.
PS: Gus the “seal – guin” has been out and about in Antarctica and I will share the pics with you on my return!