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Useful Island and Petermann Island

Jan 3rd Thursday
Useful Island and Petermann Island
We had a 6:30 wake-up announcement for 7:00 breakfast and a 9 o’clock zodiac ride to Orne Island –unfortunately weather wasn’t very good there so plans were changed to Useful Island.  We managed to put most of our gear on but it didn’t seem too cold so, no long johns yet.  The hardest thing about “gearing up” is our life jacket!  We had a short but fast zodiac ride to the island.  Kevin and Chris opted to hike to the top where the Chinstrap Penguins were nesting.  Glen and Pam made their way slowly up the path, stopping to take pictures of the Gentoo Penguins who were also nesting on the islands.  We were to keep at least 5 meters, or 15 feet from the penguins.  If they chose to walk near us that is fine but we will be fined if we get too close to the penguins so the tour guides go out first and mark the path for us to follow.  The penguins don’t always stay where they were when the guides mark the trail so we will have to wait for the penguins to cross our trail or leave the area near our trail.  Pam managed to find “fat/fluffy” penguins.  We had been warned about the smell but so far it isn’t too overwhelming.  Pam managed to get ½ ways up the trail before running into Chris on his descent down the hill.  We had been give about 1 ½ hours for this adventure.  We saw Gentoo, Chinstrap and one Adile penguins.  There were 2 seals – Wendell. Cormorants were nesting on the cliff side as well as Giant ____ petrol.  Our first zodiac trip was a success.  On the way to Petermann there was a pod of killer whales along side the boat.  We tried to take pictures but only got a small image.
We entered the Lamoine Channel.  Some of the peaks were very high (4,000 ft).  Most of us were out on deck watching us pass through the channel.  After lunch we took the zodiac to Petermann Island, the south side of the island was where the Gentoo and Cormorants were nesting and on the north side of the island the chinstraps were nesting.  We walked to the north first and upon making to the top of the hill, Glen thought he’d like to paint instead and Kevin said he had had enough for the day so they both headed back to the zodiac. They passed by the arch and back to ship (Glen just wanted to get his painting gear and head back to Petermann Island. Chris and Pam continued on to the nests.  The view of the icebergs from the top was spectacular.  Chris and Pam decided to walk to the south side. At the top of the hill people had said they saw chicks, so we stopped to see them.  Chris was able to spot them much better than Pam.  When we made it back down the hill we found Glen had setup his studio near our path.  Chris and Pam continued on to the south side.  There were nesting Gentoos and Cormorants.  The babies were easier to spot there.  Both the penguins and the Cormorants had chicks.  The staff member watching the group said it was time to head back, so off we went.  We had almost made it back to Glen when we noticed he had an admirer – A penguin was checking out his bag.  Chris was able to video tape the penguin’s walk up to check out Glen.  Chris headed back on the zodiac; his zodiac took him to check out the humpback whales, a mother and calf.  They tried to get their driver to drive under the iceberg arch but the driver said it would be too dangerous.  Glen was able to do 3 small studies while waiting for me to return.  After Glen had packed up we too headed for the zodiac.  Our driver when to see if she could find the whales, she found the mother and her calf.  After watching for the whales to surface our driver said that once we see the fluke the whale could stay under for 5 to 20 minutes.  We headed back to the ship.  Since most of the travelers had left Petermann Island as we arrived back at the ship they were pulling the zodiacs out of the water for storage.

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