Antarctica Part 12: The Wild Wild South

 ‘Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.’  ~ Bette Davis, All About Eve ~modified

30 January…Cruising Day 8…Spert Island, Mikkelsen Harbour and D’Hainaut Island

Wheeee! Talk about a ride!! Adrenalin, amazing rugged beauty, what’s not to love!!!

The Spert Island stop was only a zodiac excursion but what an excursion. It was like a ride at a waterpark made of amazing geologic formations, ice obstacle course and really, really cold water.  This was the sort of trip where ‘waterproof’ was the word of the day.  Franny, an expedition team member and our zodiac driver for this jaunt was excellent.

Franny Bergschneider | Canada

The other word or words of the day… ‘camera strap’. Can you guess? It was during this excursion that some form of marine life became a lucky and proud owner of an Apple phone. Considering the demographics of the passengers on this trip, I’m guessing it was the latest,  greatest version. Oops!  And to make the story even sadder, the same passenger’s big camera went on the fritz the day before.  One forum I followed in prep for this trip had a few passengers saying that they were carrying three cameras.  Me…I carry my main, a point-n-shoot, and my Lumia/Microsoft phone.  The point-n-shoot is strictly a backup as it is a little wonky (the LCD screen) but it still takes pictures.

FYI timeout: So this is what I do to ease the paranoia of dropping my phone in an irretrievable situation and to shield against everyday dropsies.   It seems that phone designers/manufactures stopped adding a hole for a lanyard about the time smartphones came into being. I think it’s all a conspiracy to create replacement sales from dropped phones while taking pictures. Anyway, I got the brilliant idea of adding what I call a ‘finger lanyard’ to the case itself as there are enough cut-outs to support adding one somewhere on the case. The only thing, one needs to make sure that it doesn’t block the camera lens or a control button. In my case, the perfect spot on my Microsoft 950XL was near the charging port and the microphone input. So what if my phone and me looks a little nerdy. I still have my phone. An alternative but one that is fiddly and not useful for all day, every day is a waterproof pouch. This alternative though is particularly good for splashy situations like kayaking, etc. cause we all know that you’ll want to take some pics….and why take chances.

Water splash created less than optimal photography conditions in addition to bodies blocking shots (as we were unable to standup). It’s not like I was the sole, Very-Important-Photographer on the boat so that’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ with it. So decent, usable pics were few. And to out my extremely rookie mistake, looking through the viewfinder, I didn’t have a clue that my front lens was foggy. Hadn’t had the problem before so it never crossed my mind to check this time.  No excuses. *sigh*

~ Back to our regular programming….

First we headed this direction….playing follow the leader!  Ice straight ahead…..

We cruised through small-ish ice formations…

And encountered some local residents….

Fur Seals
Southern Giant Petrel
Imminent calving event.  Part has already taken place.

Saw a little more amazing ice…

But then…..little did we know that we were in for a great ride!

Waiting our turn and timing the surge.


Out the other side and looking back.

We headed back to the boat shortly thereafter, loaded up and headed to our next stop where we did a landing.

D’Hainaut Island on Mickkelsen Harbour was not the prettiest of landings on this trip but it is a facet showing the diversity of Antarctica.  Going ashore had us negotiating some interesting ice…

I’m speculating that this ice is from a calving event that landed on terra firma rather than the water much like what happened in the picture I took at Neko Harbour.

A stark reminder of a not-to-distant bygone era were evident at our landing site…

Remnants of whale bones.

On the other side from the whale remnants was an Argentinian refuge hut that had its own small cadre of Gentoo penguins.

Gentoo with a Weddell seal hanging out in the background.  I think that this was my only pic of a Weddell seal.
Calling for its mate.
A Skua being warded off by the Gentoos.
Skuas checking out our boot cleaning equipment.
One of our very fun-loving staff.  This landing had enough of a drop-off from the shoreline that we used a step-stool getting off and on the zodiacs so we (the passengers) wouldn’t be above our knees in water.
Not in focus:  Cheli cannot walk on water…but I wanted to illustrate her standing on the stool we used.

Loading up, we head out to our next location with a great closing to the day….

Orca sighting! I think this was a mom with baby.
Not sure how many orcas were in this pod but you can look at the dorsal fin, the white dorsal strip, and white patch near the eye and see the various differences.