Posts Tagged ‘Antarctic’

The Traveling Richters in The Bonaire Reporter

March 18th, 2010 at 9:19 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Our local English-language newspaper on Bonaire, published every two weeks, is The Bonaire Reporter. The paper has a regular feature which shows a photo of a Bonaire Reporter reader holding a copy of the newspaper in an exotic location.

In the current issue (March 19 – April 9, 2010), The Traveling Richters are the featured readers of The Bonaire Reporter.

We’re pretty sure no one else has ever taken a Bonaire Reporter as far south on the globe as we have.

The clip from the newspaper is below:

The Traveling Richters with The Bonaire Reporter on the Antarctic Peninsula

The Traveling Richters with The Bonaire Reporter on the Antarctic Peninsula

 

What is the Antarctic?

February 18th, 2010 at 2:29 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

One thing that confused us, and undoubtedly many others, was what exactly entailed “being in Antarctica”.

Fortunately, governmental decree and agreement has helped define that for us in the form of the Antarctic Treaty, which was put in force in 1961 by a coalition of countries.

It defines Antarctica as being all lands and ice shelves south of 60° South Latitude, which includes places as far north as the South Orkney Islands, where we’ll be tomorrow; Elephant Island, where we were today; and of course, the Antarctic Peninsula, where we were the three days prior.

The Antarctic circle, which is at 66° 33′ 39”, defines the region below (south of) which the sun will not set on the day of the winter solstice in December (summer in Antarctica), and will not rise on the day of the summer solstice in June (winter in Antarctica).

And finally, there’s the Subantarctic. This is the area north of 60° south latitude, north some degrees to include nearby islands, such as South Georgia Island (where we will be on Saturday for a week or so). There is no hard and fast definition of where the sub-Antarctic ends, with islands as far north as the Falkland Islands (where we will be in about 10 days) being included in the Subantarctic (or sub-Antarctic if you prefer).

Hope that clears it up! It certainly did for us.

 

The Largest Iceberg Yet

February 14th, 2010 at 12:15 am (AST) by Jake Richter

After a short for some hot tea, we spotted an iceberg in the distance. We kept heading for it, but it did not seem to get any bigger. Finally it did increase in size, and we discovered that it was massive, at least in comparison to the other two icebergs we had seen up close so far during the day.

Bas observes the largest iceberg we've seen so far

Bas observes the largest iceberg we've seen so far

Up close, the iceberg's rough side, a couple hundred feet tall, is daunting

Up close, the iceberg's rough side, a couple hundred feet tall, is daunting

A southern fulmar nearly collides with me - but note the striations in the iceberg in the background - those indicate successive snow falls

A southern fulmar nearly collides with me - but note the striations in the iceberg in the background - those indicate successive snow falls

The iceberg was massive above water, but you can see it reflect turquoise light below water too - it's even more massive under the water line

The iceberg was massive above water, but you can see it reflect turquoise light below water too - it's even more massive under the water line

The obligatory sunset shot, but of an iceberg (and it's not really sunset yet either)

The obligatory sunset shot, but of an iceberg (and it's not really sunset yet either)

 

Another Humpback Whale

February 14th, 2010 at 12:12 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Perhaps as if sensing we had not had good pictures of its cousin in the morning, another humpback whale showed up right after we had bid the fin whales adieu. This whale stuck around for quite some time, diving and surfacing, time and time again.

We spot another humpback whale in front of the boat

We spot another humpback whale in front of the boat

The humpback whale starts to surface

The humpback whale starts to surface

The humpback whale's head just barely clears the water

The humpback whale's head just barely clears the water

The humpback whale begins to blow out from its two blow holes

The humpback whale begins to blow out from its two blow holes

The blow from the humpback whale splashed back down on its back

The blow from the humpback whale splashed back down on its back

The two blow holes of the humpback whale are clearly visible here

The two blow holes of the humpback whale are clearly visible here

The humpback whale leaves us for the depths again

The humpback whale leaves us for the depths again

The tail of the humpback whale breaches the water surface

The tail of the humpback whale breaches the water surface

We see the fluke of the humpback whale start to come out of the water

We see the fluke of the humpback whale start to come out of the water

The fluke of the humpback whale comes fully out of the water

The fluke of the humpback whale comes fully out of the water

The humpback whales waves goodbye - and we can use these underside markings on the fluke to identify it

The humpback whales waves goodbye - and we can use these underside markings on the fluke to identify it

 

The Southern Fulmar

February 13th, 2010 at 11:59 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

The southern fulmar is one of a number of species of seabirds in the Antarctic region. This one was part of large flock flying past the bow of the National Geographic Explorer.

A southern fulmar flies past our vessel

A southern fulmar flies past our vessel

The southern fulmar in mid-stroke

The southern fulmar in mid-stroke

 

A Large Pod of Fin, er, Sei Whales

February 13th, 2010 at 11:50 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

And, right as we saw the Antarctic fur seal, the ocean in the distance exploding with whale blow. Turns out we had found a large pod of fin whales, which are among the largest mammals in the world.

UPDATE – Feb. 14, 2010: Our marine mammal experts on board, now that they have had time to review the photos from yesterday, have determined that at least some of the fin whales we saw were in fact Sei whales – similar to the fin whales, but a different species with slight different features. And the species may swim together in a pod, to further complicate identification.

The blow from the pod of fin whales is reminiscent of the fountains at the Bellagio

The blow from the pod of fin whales is reminiscent of the fountains at the Bellagio

What a school of fin whales this was - all blowing out simultaneously

What a school of fin whales this was - all blowing out simultaneously

Here you can clearly see the mouth and lower jaw of a fin whale (rear one)

Here you can clearly see the mouth and lower jaw of a fin whale (rear one)

The pod of fin whales and our vessel part ways with a final spout

The pod of fin whales and our vessel part ways with a final spout