Swimming in Antarctica
Memories of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic
Once on land, we realize we will only want a short amount of time here, as strong blowing wind makes it unpleasant. This landing is more consistent with what we expected from Antarctica. It is windy and the snow is whipping at our faces, finding every bit of exposed skin we have. We both wear our sunglasses to block out the sun and to protect our eyes from the blowing snow. We make it to the top of the lookout and are surprised the snow isn't sticking to the volcanic ash. It just keeps blowing around. There is no wildlife here, but seeing the effects of the volcanic activity is interesting.
After lunch, we try out the on-ship pool which has just opened. Some people say the pool's water is 30 degrees Celsius (or 90 degrees Fahrenheit), but I quickly confirm that is not the case. We stay in the pool for about three minutes. Oh well, the experience is more memorable cold!
Our next stop is Aitcho Island which is part of the South Shetland Islands. Barrientos Island is covered with extensive beds of moss and lichens. It is home to gentoos, chinstraps, and elephant seals. This is our first opportunity to see a chinstrap rookery, and we are pleased to see chinstrap chicks. We also see many skuas nesting. We are on the island for about two hours, and our fingers are getting cold, so we decide to leave. However, right as we are leaving, we see a skua take off with a gentoo chick. It is stressful to watch the little guy struggle to get free. Many other gentoos try to rescue the chick. However, in the end the chick is sacrificed.
We return to the ship and have hot chocolate in the lounge to warm our hands before dinner on level six. Thankfully, we learn that the Drake Passage is predicted to be quite mild.