Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

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Kinnes Cove, Half Moon Island, and Yankee Harbor

Today we were navigated into the Antarctic Sound.  The captain was hoping to make landings at Esperanza Station and Brown’s Bluff but it was not possible due to the ice.  The staff got together and adjusted our schedule.

Here is the map provided by the MS FRAM of our travels for January 19th through 22nd.

This is a map of where we landed in Antarctica.

You can see the navigation routes from this above map.  Our landing sights are much easier to understand by looking at this fabulous map created by Fred Perry, a new friend we made on this voyage.

This is a map of our landings.

Map Created by Fred Perry

The new plan had us stop in Kinnes Cove and land on  Joinville Island.  It is the largest of the 3 island at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsular.  Joinville Island was discovered and charted in 1838 by the French expedition commanded by Captain Jules Dumont d’Urville.  He named it for Prince Francois, Prince of Joinville.

We got off of the PolarCirkel boat and made our way over the rocks.

We climbed over the rocks.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

We climbed a steep, snowy, and slippery slope.

Ann and I were hiking in the snow.

Ann said that I went higher up than she did. Anyway, we found a rookery of Adelie Penguins.  You can tell they are Adele because they have a black head and a white circle around their eyes.  I think this was the only time we saw Adelie Penguins.

A distinctive mark of an Adele Penguin is the white ring surrounding the eye.  They are a little smaller than other penguins.

Sitting on the nest.

This is an Adele Penguin Sitting on the nest.

Walking across the rocks

Adele Penguin is walking across the rocks.

Walking  and sliding across the snow

These Adele Penguins are in the snow.

Taken by Pat Burnett

Feeding a chick

Adele Penguin chick being fed.

Morten’s photo of and Adelie Penguin chick being fed just makes me smile.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer - Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

I call these the happy penguins.

Thes Adele Penguins look so happy.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

And here are a group of young ones with an adult.  Groups of young penguins together are called crèches. We were told that there is usually at least one adult watching over the young ones.

A baby Adele Penguin Rookery

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

“Esctatic Display”  I think this is what they call the talking that penguins do.

  •  It is typically done by unpaired males attracting females.
  • When a pair has found each other, they will call even louder, for a short while, as a kind of greeting(snake call).
  • Each single bird has a specific voice. In that way, they are able to recognize and locate their partner or chick, even among thousands of others birds in the colony.
  • If they just call loud enough and listen well. It is remarkable that in such large colonies, when one bird calls, the rest in a circle of a few meters around keeps silent, so everybody can find his partner.
  •  This ecstatic raising is also a warning for the others that he owns that specific nest.
Adele Penguin in Esctatic Display"

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This Adelie Penguin is bringing a rock to the nest.

This Adele Penguin is bringing a rock to the nest.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Swimming penguins

This penguin is swimming

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

At one point today I actually saw one of those Skuas swoop down and steal a penguin chick.

This Skua stole a penguin chick.

The second Skua also wanted part of the chick.

Another Skua wanted part of the chick.

Pat Burnett got a photo of some Snow Sheathbills. It is the only land bird besides the penguins that is native to Antarctica.   They do not have webbed feet. They steals krill and fish from penguins and sometimes eats their eggs and down-covered chicks. They also eat carrion, animal feces, and, where available, human waste.

These are Snowy Sheathbills in Antarctica.

This is a Snowy Sheathbill

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Some of us were chosen to do our  PolarCirkel Cruise today.  We had to put on special suits to go on the cruise.

I had to wear a special suit for the PolarCirkel cruise.

I loved getting up so close to the icebergs and blue ice.  It is so blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue – so blue is what we see!

The blue reflects under the ice

The ice looks blue

See the blue crevices in the ice.

The icebergs that our PolarCirkel took us near were so huge.  Perhaps you can get an idea of the size by seeing the ship behind it.

You can see the size of this iceberg compared to the ship behind it.

We had to navigate in the PolarCirkel boats through a lot of ice today.

This is the MS FRAM in front of the iceberg

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

At 22:00 the staff served fish soup in the Panoramic Lounge, but I was ready to sleep so I missed this.

January 21st.

We woke up to a beautiful morning.  Nice day to go out on the front deck.

It was a beautiful day to be on the deck of the FRAM.

Ann, Pat, Jane, Doreen, Rita, Valerie and I were all lucky enough to be chosen for the snowshoe trip today on Half Moon Island.  It is a crescent-shaped island in the shadows of picturesque mountains and glaciers of nearby Livingston Island.  The weather was so fabulous despite the winds which were blowing.

We were very excited about this adventure.

Pat and Nancy are excited about snowshoeing.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

Rita and Valerie were ready to go.

They are ready to snowshoe.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

We snowshoed up (probably about 800 feet) to the top of a hill.  Of course I took a slight spill.

I took a slight spill on the show shoes.

It was an unbelievably incredible place to be snowshoeing.

This is a beautiful place to be snowshoeing.

Fred took a couple photos of our snowshoe group from the ship.

we are snowshoeing up the hill.

Photo taken by Fred Perry

We are snow shoeing in Antarctica.

Photo taken by Fred Perry

We were able to get  up pretty close to Teniente Camara station which had huge Argentine flags that I could not see.

This is Camara Station on Half Moon Island

We were not allowed to go all the way up to it. Somehow both Chile and Argentina argue that part of Antarctica belongs to them.   It has only been sparsely staffed in recent years due to the Argentine economy.  I seem to remember being told that Antarctica only really belongs to Antarctica.

There is something ideal about when you put your flag up in Antarctica to you mark your spot.  Anyway, Marlena took our her flag of Greenland and Tomasz helped her to hold it up.

Greenland Flag is held up on Half Moon Island.

We were given certificates for snowshoeing.  I thought I would frame mine, but posting it in the blog seemed like a better idea.

I got a certificate for snowshoeing in Antarctica.

After we finished snowshoeing, we were taken by PolarCirkel Boats over to another spot on the island to watch Chinstrap Penguins.  When we boarded the boats from land, we stepped in the water.  It was so nice to have the boots they lent to us.

Boarding a PolarCirkel cruise boat.

The staff said that this will be our only opportunity to see Chinstrap Penguins in significant numbers.  I am putting in this short video so you can see them and hear the wind.

The Chinstrap penguins name comes from the narrow black band under their heads.

I walked over the rocks to the end of where we were allowed to go. As we made our way to the top of the hill, the guides pointed out a Weddell Seal.  I actually got a photo of one with a Chinstrap.

Weddell Seal with a Chinstrap Penguin.

Morten, of course got some great photos of the Weddell Seals.

This is a Weddell Seal.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Morten also took this photo of Crabeater Seals.   There aren’t any crab  in Antarctica.  Crabeater Seals don’t eat crab.  They eat krill.

Crabeater Seals resting.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

In another place we also saw a young Sea Elephant just laying there resting, but I don’t have a photo.

There was a real treat waiting for those of us who chose to walk up to the rookery. There was one Macaroni Penguin in the midst of what looked like hundreds of Chinstrap Penguins.  You will be able to tell Macaroni Penguins from other species due to the colors of the feathers on top of their heads. They are yellow and black and very dark in color.

This is a Macaroni Penguin.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This is a Macaroni Penguin.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

We were told that because the various penguins nests may be close to each other, this Macaroni Penguin may have  hatched in a Chinstrap area.  Because his visual imprint was Chinstrap, he just stayed there.  The staff said that he tried to mate once but it didn’t work out.

I was so excited when I saw that many baby chicks still in the nest. The fluffy brownish fur balls hang close to the adults.

Chinstrap with chick.

Chinstrap with chick.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Chinstrap with chicks.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

They climb over the rocks with such ease.

The Chinstrap Penguin climbs with ease over the rocks.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

This Chinstrap came pretty close to Sondra.  She had to stay very still.

This Chinstrap came very close to Sandra.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Jane Roosevelt took a great video of Chinstrap Penguins jumping across the rocks.

Heidi took these fabulous photos of Chinstraps.

This is a Chinstrap Penguin.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

This is a Chinstrap Penguin.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

After lunch and rest time we were taken to Yankee Harbor. It is known as a natural haven created by a one kilometer curved spit and was named for the American sealers that frequented here in the 1820s.  Yankee Harbor indents the southwest side of Greenwich Island.

We walked all around watching the Gentoo Penguins.  They are characterized by a white patch around and behind the eye that joins on the crown. The orange-red lower mandible is also a distinct feature.

We saw several rookeries of Gentoo. This island is known to have up to 4000 pairs of Gentoo in the terraced Gentoo colonies. In contrast to Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins, some Gentoo Penguins can be found around their breeding colonies all year round and they forage much closer inshore than the other two species.
There were many adults sitting on the nests keeping the baby chicks warm.

Gentoto Penguin keeping chick warm.

A few other adults were sitting on eggs that had not hatched yet.

Gentoo on the nest.

One of the penguin eggs had been abandoned.

This Penguin egg has been abandoned.

This one is climbing over the rocks.

This Gentoo is climbing over the rocks.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Many other Gentoo were by the water preening themselves.

Gentoo Penguins preening by the water.

A few were jumping into the water. They looked like they were having so much fun.  I wish I had a good video of that.

Skuas were constantly flying overhead looking for a chick.

This is a Skua flying overhead.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer –

Despite the cold and wind, this trip is a blast and, again, I could hardly believe how privileged I have been feeling each moment on this voyage.

The crew of this ship has been very impressive. Not only have they been there to help us with any need we have, they are also so organized. Due to weather conditions and ice blocking the entry to a place, they had to make changes on our itinerary and they have been right on top it. The lectures have been very interesting and their preparations meetings have been short and to the point.

Tonight at 22:00 some of the crew members sang old classical songs as our evening entertainment in the Panorama Lounge.


Going by Elephant Island

What an absolutely incredible day. We crossed over the 60th latitude at about 7:45 today which means we have reached Antarctica Waters.  The water is smooth today so we stopped rocking and rolling.

Ann, who has a much better memory than I,  gave me some facts about Antarctica and the Drake Passage  that she remembered from our lectures.

  • The continent of Antarctica is larger than the US.
  • It is now a desert, but we know that at one time there were trees as scientists found fossils with imprints of leaves.
  • The ice shelf is 100 feet deep with the continent divided into two parts – the smaller eastern half and the large western part.  In between is a section which never has snow.
  • The ocean current travels clockwise around the continent.  However, the colder waters emanating from the polar south rise above the warmer waters of the north causing a convergence  of rushing, foaming waves bringing krill to the surface with a feeding frenzy for the whales.
  • The natural currents in the Southern Hemisphere are in a clockwise, circular movement from east to west.  When the convergence and Antarctica current meet with the Southern Hemisphere westerly currents, turbulent waters prevail.  That is why there are very stormy and choppy seas through the Drake Passage between the tip of South America and Antarctica.

This morning we were told that we  had to attend a mandatory meeting (mandated by the Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), Antarctic Treaty regulations, and Norwegian law.  Anybody who wanted to do any landings in Antarctica had to attend.  Of course we attended.  One thing we learned is that the penguins, of course, have the “Right of Way”  and we must stay at least 5 meters away from them.  We also needed to watch out for the “Penguin Highways” and not walk in them.

At about noon they made an announcement that whales had been sighted.   It was on of the largest pods they had ever seen. Spouts were going up all around us. The water was filled with Humpback and Fin Whales. There were hundreds of Petrels flying all around them. There must have been about 80 – 100 Fin Wales and 10-15 that were either Humpback or Minke Whales.They are all species of Baleen Whales.

  • The Fin Wales are black on one side and white on the other.
  • There is  a theory they circle their prey with the black side closer to the krill.
  • They take in a few tons of water at once and then squeeze out the water with their tongues.
  • It is the baleen that captures the krill and doesn’t allow it to escape.


The staff  told us some facts about the temperature of the Antarctic water (about 2° Celsius), the salt content of the water, the necessary conditions for growing algae, and where krill and other crustaceans live. I wish I could repeat all of the facts.

The captain put the ship in neutral and we just floated in the same spot for well over an hour trying to get photographs but mostly just being joyous. Not only were all the passengers amazed but the crew was also. They told us that they hadn’t seen this in over 10 years. They postponed our meeting times so we all had time on the deck.

This si my best Wail photo.

And another … I think there may be 3 whales in this photo.

There are 3 whales in this photo.

Now for a couple of Morten’s photos. We can actually see the baleen of this whale.

We can see the baleen of this whale.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

The petrel is flying right near the whale.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This is a fabulous whale photo.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Not only were the whales astounding, so were the Petrels all around them.

The Petrels were all around the whales.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Pat’s photo of the whale shows how some of us were trying to get photos off the side of the deck and how close the whales came to the side of the ship.

We were trying to get photos of the whales.

Photo taken by Pat Burnett.

Morten took close-ups of many of the birds we saw.  This one is a Southern Fulmar.  (Thanks again to Sue Deitderrich for identifying all of the birds for me.)

This is a Southern Fulmar

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Here is a Black-Browned Albatros.

This is a black-browned Albatros

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

… and a Juvenile Black-Browned Petrel

This is a Juvenile Black-Browned Albatros

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

… and a Pintado Petrel

This is a Pintado Petral

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

…and a  Southern Giant Petrel.

This is a Southern Giant Petrel

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

We reached Elephant Island which is a name steeped in legend.  Elephant Island is an icon for “Antarctics” the way Cape Horn is for mariners. This imposing and desolate island was home to 22 marooned members of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s fabled 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition for four and a half months while they awaited rescue.

The point of the island.

This is Elephant Island

During the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Anarctic Expedition, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship (Endurance) became trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea in January 1915. Nine months later the Endurance was crushed by the ice and sank on 27 October 1915. Led by one of Antarctica’s greatest unsung heroes John Robert Francis (known as Frank) Wild, the men barely survived living in horrible conditions beneath two overturned lifeboats. Named for Frank, Point Wild was originally known as Cape Wild and “Cape Bloody Wild” by the men stranded there.

Shackleton and his crew of 27 made their way by foot, sledge, and lifeboats to Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula facing South America. On 24 April 1915 Shackleton and five of his men began an epic 800-mile open-boat voyage to the Island of South Georgia, leaving the remaining 22 men behind on Elephant Island while he sought help to rescue them.

After three frustrated attempts to rescue the Elephant Island group, Shackleton persuaded the Chilean Government to provide the Yelcho (a 36.5 meter steam tug) under Captain Pardo. With Shackleton aboard, the Yelcho sailed on 25 August from Punto Arenas, on the Strait of Magellan. By now the Antarctic winter was at its height, and ice conditions were difficult as the Yelcho was nearing Elephant Island. Luis Pardo Villalón (born Santiago, Chile) was the captain of the Chilean steam tug Yelcho which rescued the 22 stranded crewmen of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance from Elephant Island 30 August 1916. In Chile he is frequently referred to by his rank, “Piloto Pardo.” When the Yelcho returned to Punta Arenas on 3 September 1916 to an enthusiastic reception from the population of the city as well as Chilean Naval authorities.

Point Wild is known to be the home to a small colony of hardy chinstrap penguins and a single bronze bust incongruously watching over them. Can you see the fur seal in the forefront of the photo? The bust is of Captain Luis Pardo master of the Chilean Navy ship Yelcho that eventually rescued Shackleton’s men.

This Monument is for Piloto Pardo

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

We are so lucky to be here seeing these fantastic sights.

I love this jagged rock.

Today we also had to attend a kayaking meeting where they showed us how we were going to suit up for the trip. Some of the clothing will include a full-length fleece-like, a dry suit with neoprene feet, and neoprene gloves.

Then we went to get the boots that we will use for our other landings. Yesterday we were given the blue waterproof jackets that we get to keep. When we are all together in our blue jackets, they call us “Smurfs.”

Okay, I succumbed to a purchasing a t-shirt. It says “I survived Drake Passage”and I plan to wear it a lot when I get home.  Even though the passage was not so bad, we don’t know what to expect on the way home.

By now we were seeing many icebergs, penguins (Aldelie and Gentoo) and Fur Seals. I have spent much time today sitting in the Observation Lounge on the 7th deck.   I have been again stunned on how privileged we all are to be here.

Below are some photos  (Morten’s, Heidi’s and mine) of the icebergs and floating ice we were passing.

This iceberg floats in front of the island.

This is gloating ice.

This is a great iceberg.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Heidi took this wonderful photo of an iceberg.

An Iceberg seen traveling to Antarctica.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Part of the above iceberg looks flat like a tabular iceberg.    An iceberg with cliff-like sides and a flat top; usually arises by detachment from an ice shelf is known as table iceberg; tabular berg. The one below is definitely a tabular.

This is a tabular iceberg.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Another thing we had to do today was to vacuum out any backpacks and anything we had brought from home which we planned to bring with us when we went onshore.

I could sit in the observation lounge for hours and hours and hours.  Sue took a photo of some of the Portland group relaxing.

We are relaxing in the observation lounge.

Sue Deitderich took this photo.

Our whole group has been assigned to the second seating for meals so we will be eating lunch at 13:30 and dinner at 20:15 each day.

At 22:00 the staff did a fashion show for us in the Panorama Lounge of the clothes they sell in the shop on the ship.