Friday, January 10, 2014

Rec Boating, finally

For as much inconvenience as the ice caused us, what with the LMG not being able to get in, science not being able to get out, cruise ships not being able to visit and so on, far and away the worst thing about all the ice was that it cut off our rec boating.  We maintain the fleet of Zodiacs for science and local transportation, but after work or on our days off, if no one is using the boats, we're free to sign one out and go for a cruise around the area.  It's one of the best parts of living at Palmer, and just after the holidays we FINALLY got our first real rec boating of the season.`

Leaving station behind!

We really lucked out with the weather; good sky, warm weather and barely a hint of wind.  It made for some stunning views and reflections.

After driving around for an hour or so, we stopped off at one of the local islands to go for a hike and get the blood moving again.

With the zodiac tied up, we all wandered off in our own directions around the island.

What a beautiful place this is!

Much of the island was littered with limpet shells, one of the staples of many flighted seabirds diets.  They collect these little mollusks from the tidal zones and near shore, carrying them up to great altitude and dropping them on the rocks to crack open the shells so they can eat the tasty insides.

Even down here, in this extreme of a climate, there are some unbelievably tough little patches of grass that manage to cling to life.  There's not much in the way of soil so you'll find them growing along cracks in the rock, where they're shielded slightly from the winds and can leach out the minerals they need.

Prior to setting off, we all regrounded for a small snack.  Someone had been brilliant enough to bring along ginger beer (it's actually a soft drink, like root beer), and we found comfortable positions on rocks where we could to enjoy the time off.

Carolyn had managed to find a section of chair that looked like it had been broken off years ago.  It made a good seat, and we took it back to station with us to pack out with the station waste.

Motoring back to station, we ran into one of the science groups who was out doing water sampling.  They cued us in over the radio that in their vicinity was napping one of the biggest Leopard seals they'd ever seen.

When you're the local apex predator you don't have to wake up from your nape for anything, let alone some boat full of orange creatures taking pictures of you.

We weren't the only ones keenly aware of it's presence.  Just a few hundred yards up the ice flow were some penguins camped out on an iceberg, probably not interested in getting in the water while that seal was around.

Admit it, pictures of penguins are what you really came to this blog for. :)

Unfortunetly our little boating window didn't last; the week or two of mostly clear water we had was dashed last night, when a combination of the tide and wind pushed the big ice pack right back in.

So we're seemingly back where we were a couple weeks ago, iced in.  We were supposed to have a couple of cruise ships visit this week, but due to the ice they weren't able to make it in.  There's a strong north wind focast for tonight though, and with any luck it'll blow most of this stuff out so we can get out boating once again.

1 comment:

June B. Anderson said...

Hopefully you won't think this a rude request, but I am a self-published author (which means that I am impatient and want my books published NOW so that I don't wait in line for 15,000 publishers to turn me down) and would like to say that my books are on every continent. I can almost say that, but I need to get at least one of them onto Antarctica. May I mail you one? If so, how do I address it? Thanks. June B. Anderson