February 2, 2023
We were excited to get out and begin our activities for today. After some coffee we dressed in all of our expedition gear, including tall waterproof wader boots, waterproof pants, waterproof gloves, and very warm expedition jacket with a full liner. Oh, and don’t forget the life vest! We had so many layers on we felt like the giant marshmallow man. Once we were dressed in our required gear, we went down to the launch pad, where an expedition team member checked to see that we had our gear on correctly before helping us into a Zodiac boat.
Today’s first activity was a Zodiac landing in Fournier Bay. We are thrilled to be able to do a landing. A landing is different than a Zodiac cruise (which we took yesterday). The landing actually pulls up to the land so you can walk on the continent of Antarctica and observe wildlife or other attractions. It is important to note that Antarctica does not have any cities or towns with docks for the ships. The only way to get onto the land is in a small boat. So, today’s landing was special because it would be the first time we actually stepped foot on the continent of Antarctica.
The Zodiac is heading toward a new landing area, one they have not visited before. This location not only has wildlife, it also has an old British research station (a small wooden house) that is no longer being used, but visitors can go in to see how the researchers lived and worked there in the early days of Antarctic research (1950s).
The landing was amazing! After passing lots of icebergs and penguins we reached our destination. As we pulled up to the landing area there were 4 penguins several yards away to welcome us! Next we saw a few Weddell seals lying on the snow sleeping. They didn’t seem to care at all that a group of humans were close by and taking their picture. The rule in Antarctica is that you can’t get closer than 15 feet to any of the wildlife. The old research station was interesting, I can’t even imagine living and working for months at a time in those conditions. After walking through the station, we spent our remaining time there looking for wildlife – we spotted more penguins, lots of Antarctic birds, and another seal. Just before we left a group of penguins were playing in the water nearby. (The picture below is a Weddell Seal)
Second adventure today was on a Special Operations boat. These boats go really fast, and they don’t land anywhere. We took an hour ride going around small islands and big icebergs looking for wildlife. We saw lots of penguins and many different types of birds.
The Special Ops boat and the Zodiac boats are 2 of the 4 types of “toys” on the Expedition Ship for passengers to be able to get good views of their surroundings. The other two types of toys are kayaks and a small submarine. We really hope we get a chance to take a ride in the submarine while we are here!