Posts Tagged ‘fur seal’

Antarctic Fur Seals at Red Rocks Ridge

February 15th, 2010 at 5:12 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Also on shore were fur seals. They were quite stressed due to their molting, and we were advised to stay well away from them. I strayed too close to one (about 35 feet) and was soundly rebuked with a growl and huff.

Fur seal - also molting

Fur seal - also molting

A fur seal and its entourage of penguins

A fur seal and its entourage of penguins

 

We Make Landfall on the Antarctic Continent

February 15th, 2010 at 2:54 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yesterday morning, we woke around 8am to find ourselves surrounded by ice bergs in the northern part of Marguerite Bay, just south of Adelaide island. We could make out brown bits of land in the distance in addition to ice bergs and figured landfall was not far off.

An iceberg in the fog

An iceberg in the fog

However, minutes later we were in the midst of very dense fog, which did not let up for hours. An attempt was made to find us a landing site with wildlife nonetheless, but it was not successful.

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

Radar shows where there are obstacles

Radar shows where there are obstacles

The captain of the National Geographic Explorer opted to move the ship to a new location to try again, and another scouting party was sent out. Finally word came back that we would be able to go for an afternoon landing at Red Rocks Ridge, where there was a large colony of Adélie penguins. However, because of the fog, there would be no Zodiac tours while others were on shore, and instead half the passengers would go ashore at 1:30pm for two hours, and then the other half would go at 3:30pm so that the 100 person on shore limit could be properly enforced but still allow all to spend ample time exploring.

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

Everyone on board had all been previously distributed into a total of six groups, and we are in Group 1. Groups 1, 2, and 3 were the first shift, and Groups 4, 5, and 6 the second.

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

The ride was a bit cold, but we were thrilled to able to finally set foot on the Antarctic continent, and better yet, get a better understanding of how penguins lived on land.

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

We spent the next two hours observing the rules of conduct as well as hundreds of penguins, a fair number of Antarctic blue-eyed shags (in the cormorant family) as well as several territorial skuas.

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

I will post several separate blog posts after this one with photos of particular encounters at Red Rocks Ridge in order to split things up a bit, as there are a lot of pictures to share.

 

Jake’s Take – Drake Passage – Day 2 – Part 2 – Wow!!!

February 13th, 2010 at 11:31 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

After we had the gear we were taking on land tomorrow disinfected and vacuumed as necessary, around 3:30pm today, we were told over the announcement system that there was an iceberg ahead.

Getting our protective gear – which includes great parkas supplied by Lindblad and included in our tour fee, and our cameras, we headed out to the bow to see if we could take any decent photos.

The next two hours were spent out in the cold (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit) taking photo after photo of each new wondrous thing that appeared, roughly in the following order:

– A large iceberg with a colony of chinstrap penguins on it

– Part of said iceberg coming off with a very loud cracking/gunshot sort of sound

– An Antarctic fur seal

– A large pod of fin whales – among the largest mammals on earth – feeding near the surface and constantly blowing, at a distance reminding us of the synchronized water fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

– A humpback whale that stayed near the boat for about 20 minutes, giving us wonderful photo opportunities, time and time again

– Southern fulmars flying by in countless numbers

– And, last but not least – a massive iceberg which showed us how high swells could get here at the southern end of the Drake Passage by virtue of a smooth, washed down face contrasted with a rough rear face. And it also showed us the striations formed by the hundreds of snow falls necessary to build the iceberg to its massive size.

There are a large number of pictures representing all of the above – I managed to cull down about 600 photos to less than 30, but in order to present them in more manageable chunks, I will post each of the itemized list items above as a separate post.

But first, below are a few of the humans watching these beautiful nature moments.

Passengers aboard the National Geographic Explorer hoping to spot more marine mammals

Passengers aboard the National Geographic Explorer hoping to spot more marine mammals

Photographers shooting whale images aboard the National Geographic Explorer

Photographers shooting whale images aboard the National Geographic Explorer

Explorer Jake, ready for anything

Explorer Jake, ready for anything

We should be making it to Marguerite Bay tomorrow, below Adelaide Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. We are curious how that will all compare to the amazing display of wildlife and nature we experienced today.