February 7, 2023
For our last expedition of the trip we went by Zodiac boat to Half Moon Island. The island has a large population of Chinstrap Penguins and Fur Seals. Chinstrap penguins are easy to identify because it looks like they have a black strap running from ear to ear, under their eyes and beak. (See below)
This Chinstrap Penguin is standing in front of an old wooden boat from the past, when hunting whales was a big business. The large whaling boats would anchor in the middle of the harbor and these smaller boats would scout for whales. This boat is probably from the 1960's.
There are many water birds in Antarctica. The bird below looks a lot the the Sea Gulls we have in San Diego. That is because it is a relative - this is a Kelp Gull found widely in the Southern Hemisphere and the only gull in Antarctica. It nests on rocky cliffs and hunts for limpets and other mollusks along the shoreline.
Here are some more Antarctic birds.
This is a juvenile Kelp Gull. Note how the juvenile looks different than the adult above.
There are several types of seals and sea lions that live in Antarctica. We saw Weddell Seals and Fur Seals during our time there. All of the seals below are Fur Seals, unless labeled otherwise.
Furs seals can walk on ice using their fore flippers reaching speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. They eat krill, squid, and fish and can dive up to 800 feet.
The red buildings in the background of this picture are an Argentinian Research Station. Since Antarctica is not owned by any one country, it operates under the Antarctic Treaty which specifies that only scientific and peaceful activities can take place there. Currently there are 70 permanent research stations scattered across the continent, representing 29 countries. The oldest existing research station was established by a Scottish Expedition in 1903. In 1962 the US built the McMurdo Research Station. The different research stations are all conducting a variety of research projects, and frequently share ideas and findings.