Over night we travelled across the Bransfield Strait and morning found us just off of Deception Island, another of the South Shetland Islands. The South Shetland Islands are “claimed” by the British, Argentines & the Chileans and many countries have established research basis on these islands.
Our wakeup call came at 6:45; at 7 we were scheduled to sail through Neptune’s Bellows into Whaler’s Bay, Port Foster, Deception Island. It can be quite tricky navigating this narrow entrance due to the winds and to Ravn Rock, which lies in wait 8 feet below the surface in the middle of the channel.
Deception Island is an active volcano, and Port Foster is actually it’s caldera (or crater); after a massive eruption 10,000 years ago the caldera was flooded with sea water making it one of the safest harbours in Antarctica.
The island was home to sealing operations in the 1820’s, and in the early 1900’s the sheltered bay was home to as many as 13 “Factory Ships”, the ships that processed the whales. A permanent station was built in 1911 and operated until 1931; remnants of the station still remain and are now home to local wildlife.
A more detailed history of the base…
A very lonely and desolate resting place. Before the 1969 eruption, this cemetery held the remains of 35 whalers and a monument to 10 souls lost at sea; today only these 2 graves can be seen.
The weather that day ranged from bright and sunny, to dark and foreboding.
After walking around the remains of the whaling station / base, there was still time to walk up to Neptune’s Window.
My reward for the climb. They had a rope on the ground that you were not to cross – no worries there!
And of course, there were penguins. The island is home to a very large chinstrap colony, but there was, as always, a gentoo in the mix.
A couple of Chinstraps on a mission..
A few boats embedded in the black volcanic sand
A rock, perfectly wedged in there…
Nesting blue eyed shags
Beautiful volcanic landscape; did I mention our geologist was pretty excited this day as well?
An elephant seal on the beach
Some chinstraps checking out what remains of a shipwreck
This Norwegian WhaleCatcher didn’t successfully navigate Neptune’s Bellows or Ravn Rock; a reminder to all of the unseen perils beneath the sea.
That is a chinstrap colony on the ledge at the top; they’re pretty amazing climbers to get up there!
We said goodbye to Deception Island and set sail for Half Moon Island; another one of the South Shetland Islands and our last stop before heading across the Drake passage and back to Argentina.
I love the way this Chinstrap was just standing on top of the rock, gazing over at the glaciers of Livingston Island. Our expedition leader suggested we all find a quiet place to sit and reflect upon our trip. I found it funny that this guy seemed to be doing exactly that!
These guys were having fun, toboganning in the snow
Our expedition leader Shane taking his own advice and enjoying a quiet moment.
The rugged beauty of Antarctica
This is Camara, the Argentinian base and research station (one of 13 they have in Antarctica). It’s now manned only in the summer, but we didn’t see any signs of life.
Half Moon Island with the larger Livingston Island in the background.
Penguins are so engaging and entertaining to watch. Here’s a short video of them just going about their business, seemingly without a care in the world…
This Weddell Seal didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence, except maybe for the fact that we woke him up.
Back to sleep while our ship prepares to take us back to civilization.
We travelled a total of 3312 nautical miles, made it as far south as 64º 08.7’ S and had the adventure of a lifetime. Below is the map that Quark provided us with our route and the sites that we visited.
- Deception Island
- Half Moon Island
- Neptune's Bellows
- Port Foster
- South Shetland Islands
- Whaler's Bay