Antarctica Expedition : Post #6 - October 19, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Antarctica Oct 19

Hi!! Today was one of the most amazing days!! One of the things on my "to do " list, was to record the sounds of Antarctica.

Penguins were on the top of the list... We had a permit to go to Cape Crozier to see the Emperor Penguins but it is very difficult to access them and it requires an Emperor Penguin expert scientist to accompany us.

Paul Ponganis is the expert in Emperor Penguins and we were lucky enough to be able to accompany him. It was a matter of going now or never. The Emperors make their colony in the sea ice. They find areas where the sea's underwater currents have made formations allowing them to be in protected areas.

On approximately Oct 17, the Adele Penguins (20.000) come to the mouth of this area. This area then becomes a protected area and no one is allowed to go closer.

The view and clouds flying to Cape Crozier were otherworldly...

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We left McMurdo by Helicopter at 8:30 AM and flew to a landing spot about a 2-hour hike away from the Emperors.

Using stabilizers on our boots and Ice Axe, we climbed down rocky terrain to the Ice. It was very difficult to find an area to cross that wasn't blocked by huge chunks of ice or by icy water.

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On the way we saw a Weddell Seal and her cub.

 
 

We spent an hour fascinated by the Emperors and their behavior. They waddle along but if there is a crack in the ice, they lie down on their belly and slide across. Pick themselves up by their beak and continue.

There were several baby chicks that had just been hatched, snuggling up to their parents asking for food. Not all of the parents would give in to their requests.

One Parent found a dead baby chick and tried to revive it. The sounds of these birds are like music.

We came across an abandoned Emperor Penguin egg...

 
 

We then climbed up a steep, rocky slope for 1 1/2 more hours to the comfort of our helicopter.

Quite a day!

 
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View on the way home!!

Tomorrow... Lake Vanda and Bull Hill

Posted by Diane Tuft