Antarctica Part 10b: One small step, one big milestone

Goals are like breadcrumbs, they keep you moving forward.  ~Me

8 January…Cruising Day 6:  Lemaire Channel and Paradise Harbour, Brown Station

64°.54’S, 062°.52’W is located in a spot called Paradise Harbour.  For me and ~199 of my closest fellow passengers, it was where we stepped onto The Continent.   Yes, I use capital letters….it is that special.  Many people tell you that they’ve been to Antarctica when in reality, they only sailed by the upper peninsula.  The next best thing they might have been able to do is make a landing on one of the islands that could accessed by tenders.  But to actually step foot on The Continent is aspirational.  And not everyone on every Antarctic expedition gets to do this.  Remember those pesky wind and water conditions?  Yeah, they can bite at any time.

So we’ve crossed The Circle, taken The Plunge, and now stepped onto The Continent.  This was a trip of Fantastic Firsts!

Today’s activities in addition to the Polar Plunge:  A scenic cruise through Lemaire Channel:

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Ice sculpture, Lamaire Channel
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Up close view of the same ice formation
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Glacier getting ready to calve….one of many we saw.

There was a brief glimpse of this…

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Humpback whale

If the humpback wasn’t enough excitement, around lunchtime we spotted a frenzy….

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Southern Giant Petrels battling over what is probably seal remains.

…which means there is a good chance of these being in the vicinity….and they were.

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Orca!

After the Lemaire  Channel, Paradise Harbour was next with a zodiac cruise and a landing at the Argentinian research station.  ‘Argentinian’ as this is the slice of the pie that Argentina lays claim to even though no single country ‘owns’ any part of The White Continent.  One can read more about this non-ownership here (not that Wikipedia is the end all be all of all knowledge but it’s just easiest for this conversation.)

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Brown Station, Argentinian research station
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When Expedition Leader Cheli said ‘land here’ to the zodiac drivers, she means it!

Once ashore, passengers could stay near the water and view a few stray penguins or….

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Climb to the middle, or the top, or not climb at all.
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Looking back down to the Ocean Endeavour

The water was so incredibly still, kayakers and the stand-up paddle boarders got to do their thing…

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SUPs taking a break.

While the kayakers were busy, we did a zodiac cruise…

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Nesting cormorants
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Cormorant (blue-eyed shag) in flight carrying a drop of water.
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Lichen, moss, fungi and other organisms create this vivid color.
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A close-up of the geologic formation.

We had company….

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Unless a spaceship or a beam transported this boat here, they had to sail across the Drake.  Hopefully they had the calmer version of the Drake.

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From the zodiac, we saw this as close as safely possible….

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Imminent calving event.

And this….

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A sleeping Leopard Seal.

Back on the boat….looking out, I saw other passengers having their photographic moment with the same seal.

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And looking down…. saw barrels being filled with fresh water.  As it turns out, we were helping to top off the water supply for the residents of Brown Station.

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Time to get ready for dinner followed by a good sleep.  It was a nicely long day.

~*~
~Thank you to my sis and SallyB for playing the game of ‘A or B’.

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