Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bransfield Strait

15 Dec. 2012 
Jackie Jaeger/Michelle Baker 
7:00 am
Location: Bransfield Strait located in the South Shetland Islands
Latitude: 62 degrees 33.8 minutes south
Longitude: 59 degrees 28.6 minutes west
Sunrise: 2:54 AM Sunset will be at 22:51.
Question: What time is that in standard time? 
Air temperature this morning: +2 degrees Celsius
Question: What is the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit? 
Water temperature: +2 degrees Celsius 
Calm weather conditions all day.

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Today was our last day to participate in excursions. We visited Robert Point and Yankee Harbor; both were filled with a variety of wildlife. Walking along the rocky beach at Yankee Harbor we got very close to resting Elephant Seals. These were all females varying in age and were quite large (over 8 feet long).
Question: How large do full grown female southern elephant seals get? 
How large do male southern elephant seals get? 
Female elephant seals live in a group.
Question: What is this group called? 

We saw about 35 of the female elephant seals on the beach. They live right along with the penguins. The penguins and seals just ignore one another. Today we also saw more Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. No matter how many of these little birds we see, they still are as cute as when we first spotted them. We really admire their perseverance as they walk up the steep, snowy hills to their nests up in the rocks.

As we walked along the, beach we saw broken eggs. These broken eggs were penguin eggs stolen by and eaten by the nearby nesting Skua birds. The Skua birds are the number one predators of penguin eggs and chicks. Today we had our own little version of the Titanic. One of our kayakers, while collecting ten-thousand-year-old glacier ice for the evening cocktails aboard ship, hit a small iceberg and capsized. As a result, he is the only member of our group who has actually taken a “polar plunge” in the waters of Antarctica. With the excellent rapid assistance of the kayak staff of One Oceans, he made it safely back aboard his kayak and the ship; Unfortunately the cocktail ice was lost at sea.

The weather again was beautiful with bright blue skies all day. The sea is slightly choppy but still not too bad at all. This evening as we reenter the Drakes Passage the seas are gently rolling as we head home to the tip of South America. In the dining room we toast the wonderful trip that we have had along the Antarctic Peninsula.

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