Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ice (Nov. 21)

Antarctica, the seventh continent.  Well, actually, it's my fifth, but most people call it the seventh.  It's also called the white continent, and I think I know why.  It's also known as the highest, driest, coldest, windiest, and loneliest continent.
When I awoke this morning and looked out the window, I was blinded by the amount of ice outside!  There were huge tabular icebergs everywhere.  For those of you who don't know what those are... a tabular iceberg is a large iceberg that was once a part of an ice shelf.  As glaciers shift down to the sea, ice shelves (tall, flat pieces of ice) break off in long, narrow icebergs about 30x5 miles long.  Those are what I first saw when I looked out the window.  There is simply a lot of ice!  

Tabular ice berg in Antarctic Sound.

Our landing this morning was at an Adelie Penguin colony at Brown Bluff.  These little guys are small and quirky, just as you would imagine a penguin would be.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it is much colder here.  It snows here a lot and is about 4 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill.  No longer Chaco weather out on deck unfortunately.  Not that it really was before either, but Jason and I have kept to the Chacos so far, much to the bemusement of our shipmates!  But we bundled up for this landing and were rewarded with our first continental landing, meaning that we actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica, not just an outlying island.  It's exactly as I imagined Antarctica would be when I was little!  Lots of ice, very cold, and many, many penguins!  

Adelies at Brown Bluff.

We made it to Antarctica!

We had intended on finding some thick ice and running the ship up on it so that we could get out and walk around, but we never found ice that was suitable for this purpose.  So we sailed around looking for seals and ice bergs.  During dinner the captain even rubbed the front of the ship onto a huge berg and pushed it down the channel quite a ways!  Very cool day.  And as we came to find out, it was one of the coldest summer days in the last four years!

Pack ice in Erebus and Terror Gulf.

And right before I was about to post this, we saw killer whales!

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