Friday, December 19, 2008

Moot Point

December 15th found us in Crystal Sound. We had hoped to visit a site called Prospect Point and the nearby Fish Islands where there are breeding Adelie Penguins. However, the ocean and ice had different plans for us. Prospect Point and the Fish Islands were both surrounded by heavy pack ice so we continued north. Much of the morning was spent moving through pack ice and around large chunks of glacial ice – bergs, bits and pieces. The best part of the morning for me was watching the Snow Petrels moving across the pack ice and following the ship looking for food items among the overturned ice caused by our passage. Late in the morning we found a patch of open water where the guests were able to kayak at the edge of some sea ice. It was a gorgeous day but there were no penguin colonies nearby so we were just enjoying the day at that point. We headed out in a zodiac with Mike Nolan and C.T. Ticknor and a zodiac load of guests to see what we could see. It was perfectly calm and sunny and when we stopped the zodiac for a bit I mentioned that this was perfect weather to hear a whale because the sound would carry for a long way. Within 20 seconds we heard a whale blow and shortly afterward we found 3 Minke Whales feeding nearby. One became curious in us and circled the boat a few times and came quite close. He finally got tired of us and moved off so we went to where the other whales were feeding but they weren’t as interested in us as the other whale and they moved away fairly fast. We returned to the ship and we headed north again to Peterman Island. Since Peterman has recently been surveyed by some other Oceanites researchers on the National Geographic Endeavour, our plans were to visit the nearby Moot Point to survey the nesting Gentoo Penguins there, but our plans became moot when we arrived and the channel was again jammed with pack ice. No landings there either. We then continued through the Lemaire Channel in the late evening heading for nearby Cuverville Island where we hoped to finish up some Gentoo nest counts that we had to hurriedly estimate the last time we were on the island and also survey Chinstrap Penguins nesting on nearby Orne Island.

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