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Penguins in the morning, penguins at night

semi-overcast 20 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.


Antarctica is a desert. The annual precipitation (both snow and ice) is 0.4 inches inland and slightly more on the Peninsula where we are anchored. Ice and snow cover the land because they fell millions of years ago and it is too cold for them to melt. BUT ... last night it snowed and the pool deck was white! Today it is very cold and drizzling a bit, and we are drifting near the Chilean base Gonzalez Videla. A mammoth mountain towers over us, and we aren’t walking around on the ship’s decks.

We are once again wearing many layers and waddling like the penguins we visit. The colony at this place is filled with Gentoo penguins, and they are not very attractive. This is molting season (remember, it’s SUMMER here) and the molting folks stand around shivering and the ground is littered with feathers. The feathers are smeared with excrement because there is no rain to wash it away so it just accumulates. It smells – a LOT. The penguin chicks are small; the adults are large and come in two shapes. The fat ones have gone into the sea to eat food for their young; after they regurgitate it they get back to normal size.

The human residents of the Chilean base were very glad to see us. They don’t get many visitors! They had a (very) little shop from which we sent a post card and a base station where we had our photo taken. Fourteen men live there and do some scientific research; they noted that there is one captain and one remote control for the television.

After seeing the sites we waddled back to the zodiac and were passed down from one guide to the next so we wouldn’t slip into the sea; once back, we were passed up from one crew member to another and then hosed off and sent to walk through some chemical solution (biosecurity). The last photos: our good friends Doug and Jane Kline returning to the ship and one of our waiters serving us hot chocolate after we were back onboard.

Tonight is formal night aboard the Whisper, so the men get to dress up like penguins.

Posted by HopeEakins 10:48 Archived in Antarctica

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