February 1, 2023
Today was absolutely amazing! We reached Antarctica, and the White Continent welcomed us with snow covered islands and mountains, snow fall, humpback whales, Antarctic birds, icebergs, and calm waters!
The day began with a Science Fair where we talked with the science staff and learned about what projects they are currently working on. That was very interesting, and I especially enjoyed the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with the scientists. Then the Captain made the announcement that the ship was approaching the peninsula of Antarctica, specifically in Fournier Bay, and we got our first view of the continent. Soon we could see some snow-capped cliffs and large icebergs. As we were admiring the amazing view two things happened – it started snowing and people began spotting whales in the water. So, we hustled outside to watch for whales from the deck, and we saw Humpback whales, frequently in pairs, surface and dive.
Karen and I were so fortunate to be able to get on one of the first Zodiac boats to leave the ship. We spent an hour riding through the Antarctic waters looking at different types of ice and icebergs; identifying birds such as artic terns, petrels, and albatross; and learning about the area from the expedition leader who was driving our Zodiac. There was one penguin siting, but it was far away. We learned so much about the various forms of ice. Who knew there are so many varieties of ice! My favorite was the black ice, which is completely clear highly compressed glacial ice, possibly thousands of years old, and dimpled on the surface. There was also pancake ice, which is round collections of snow that forms as a result of wave action on slush on the surface of agitated water.
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!