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Whaler's Bay at Deception Island

Whaler's Bay greeting team at Deception Island!
Whaler's Bay greeting team at Deception Island!
Feb 3, 2023
Today we cross Bransfield Strait in the morning. The weather and wind are quite nasty, but we cross Bransfield Strait without much of an issue this morning. Again, I am grateful for the free morning to be a bit lazy. This morning we are presented with two hour-long lectures to fill the time. One discusses the volcanic activity at Deception Island as well as the history of the seal and whaling commercial enterprises that took place here 120 years earlier. And a second lecture covers the expedition of Larsen and Nordenskjold. To this area, resulting in an additional year trapped out here and a very happenstance reunion of three different parted groups in the midst of the Weddell Sea.

We enter Deception Island (named that due to the original explorer who spotted it thinking it was one solid island, but 10 months later another explorer discovered an inlet and that it is actually a flooded caldera inside).  We enjoy a ship’s cruise to the back of the caldera and return to the opening to take anchor at Whaler’s Bay. Here we get out on shore and have a big expanse to walk. This is the first landing where we really feel like we get our steps in. We admire the old British airplane hangar. A gentleman was the first to fly down here by creating an S-shaped runway. Next, we explore what is left of the Norwegian whaling commercial station as well as the British base (Base B) from Operation Tabarin in the 1940s. This base was active up until the volcano erupted in 1967 and they have to be emergency evacuated from this very cove. After another eruption 2 years later the base was abandoned. We walk along the beach and hike both the hill to see to the West and Neptune’s Window to see to the east. Along the way, some very territorial fur seals jest with charging our group multiple times. It is the first time we’ve seen any of them get aggressive. They are small however and scaring them off an attack by making yourself look large is easy to do. We also see one large but lazy leopard seal lounging on the beach as well.  We enjoy a long time on shore, more than 3 hours, and some of our group take part in a micro-plastics Citizen Science program, which helps to measure and collect data on what pieces of plastic we find in the soils down here. This has not been surveyed much so the data collection by expedition tourism really helps aid in filling data gaps. We find no microplastics in the soil at Whaler’s Bay.

This evening we sit down for debriefing and then dinner. And again, we are blessed with a huge pod of orcas right out the window at dinner. They seem to almost be dancing around our ship and we spot so many of them right off the stern. It is truly a magical end to a breathtaking day.

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