Monday, September 23, 2013

9. Lemaire Channel and Penola Strait 65°15'17" S 64°17'56" W Icefields And Many Seals

I woke up a bit late, still feeling the cold night before, when we were approaching the Lemaire Channel, which is supposed to be the photographic highlight of the Antarctic Peninsula. When arriving a fierce storm was blowing (9 Bft.), the sky was ominous and it was made clear again that despite all the beauty, this is not an environment meant for us.

 After a while the wind was receding and we were looking at the entrance of the Penola Strait, a small channel between 1000 meter high straight mountains. However, the Strait looked to be blocked by ice.

This year the Europa had not managed yet to reach it's most southern destination, the Ukrainian base Vernadsky, with ice blocking the passage. In fact only two ships had managed it this season yet.
So we were all a bit anxious to see what would happen next.
With lookouts high in the mast and upfront at the stern the captain decided to give it a go.

What pictures do not show is sound. And the sound crossing these icefields with everything cracking around you is something not to forget. At a certain point the captain asked everyone to leave the deck in front to have a better view so that we could make a safe passage.

When the channel widened up again the weather changed entirely and it would turn out to be a beautiful sunny day. We encountered Crab Seals resting on floating icefloes, at first we thought we were lucky but they were literally everywhere. We also saw a penguin taking risks by just walking next to a Leopard Seal. Or he was suicidal or he did not know that he was not the top of the food chain.

Reaching our destination we met more dramatically shaped icebergs and with the sun blazing, the colors were again of unparalleled beauty.

This album here has pictures of the Lemaire Channel and Penola Strait, Icebergs, Glaciers, Icefloes, the Captain, Crabeater Seals, Leopard Seals, Porpoising Penguins and the Bark Europa.
It has 64 pictures.

click here for the album

This video was mainly filmed the last few days:

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