Monday, September 23, 2013

7. Gerlache Strait and Cuverville Island 64°21'11" S 61°28'28" W Fields Of Ice, Shipwrecks And Whales

This day, February 16th would be one of the highlights of a trip that was filled with extraordinary events. We started navigating the Gerlache Strait. The amount of ice floating around us was increasing dramatically, the scenery left us literally speechless for hours.

One of the most memorable experiences was that nobody said a word or was just whispering. Everyone was deeply impressed by the beauty surrounding. Nature can be truly astounding.

It was really hard to get into the deck house to get something to eat or drink, you just did not want to leave the deck.

Just when lunch was being ready to be served, whales were spotted, sleeping whales to be exactly. When at the beginning of our trip we were instructed to on the lookout of sleeping whales nobody of us knew how that would look like and here was our answer, some big logs, like treetrunks remaining stationary.
The two Humpback whales eventually woke up and would remain with us for maybe 3 quarters of an hour. They seemed to enjoy us as much as we enjoyed them, rolling around next to the ship, spyhopping to get the better view of us, one jumped out of the water.

Unfortunately I ran out of batteries and memory on both my cameras, I had always spares with me, but today I had changed jumpers and I forgot all the spares were within that jumper, so instead of directly running to get this, I decided to first take in what was happening around us, choosing to look through my eyes instead of through a lens. The water was exceptionally clear and we could see the whole animal through the water. And yes they are huge, but without anything familiar to compare the size I did not have the feeling I was looking at animals as big as a freight truck. Quite often I had to remind myself about the sizes of what we saw, be it whales, icewalls or icebergs, it is difficult to get a feeling of the in an environment that is totally devoid of recognizable human habitation.

After this lunchbreak we continued and met the remains of an an old whaling ship, the Gouvernøren, that stranded here in 1916 and is now a monument to these days past. Nowadays with the Antarctic Treaty in place if anything would happen, the government under which the ship sails is held responsible to salvage everything left behind fortunately. It helps reminding you though that as breathtaking the environment is, this can also be a dangerous place.

The day was not over yet, late in the afternoon we arrived at Cuverville Island where we would land and take another tour visiting a really large Gentoo penguin colony. Compared to the first two colonies we visited this was different because there was less rock and more ice all around the island.
This was truly a memorable day.

This album here has pictures of the Gerlache Strait, Icebergs and Ice floes, a Crabeater Seal, Humpback Whales,the Gouvernøren shipwreck and the Bark Europa.
It has 69 pictures.

click here for the album

This album here has pictures of Cuverville Island, Gentoo Penguins, a Skua and the Bark Europa.
It has 24 pictures.

click here for the album

A part of this video was shot this day:

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