Day 39(a) Antarctic Experience Continued


To my surprise internet connection has been very good south of the 60 degree latitude line. I made an effort to get some photographs posted at the expense of commentary. Actually little commentary was needed for the pictures as they pretty well speak for themselves. I will try to tell a little about our Antarctic experience to this point though.

We have had many very capable speakers over the past several days. Usually there are two 1 hour lectures each morning and another in the afternoon. Today since we have reached some of our destinations, we did not have a formal presentation. Instead, there was commentary by the appropriate “expert” when we were at a notable location. The commentary is broadcast over the outside PA system when we are not too close to wildlife. It is also broadcast over the TV system for in cabin reception, along with the fore and aft camera feeds.

Of course any and all lectures are voluntary, but it would be a shame not to take advantage of the excellent minds available to educate yourself about this remarkable part of our earth. So, although this is vacation trip it is also an educational experience. Not only have I learned a great deal from the lecturers onboard, but I am accumulating an extensive reading list for when I return home! In addition we have met and made friends with other travelers from all over the world, another avenue to continue the learning process.

Since we are officially Expeditionaries, we were required to be briefed on the basic rules as laid down in the Antarctic Treaty. We had a presentation by the Safety and Environmental officer and also by the guest speakers. Each daily issue of the Explorer, our daily program and activity guide, also has an abbreviated list of the rules.


Some of these are:

Respect and honor the serenity of the environment.
Cans, paper napkins and straws will NOT be available on outside decks (in fact they have been completely removed during this part of the cruise)
Do not smoke on outside decks or balconies
Do not feed the birds or seal life that inhabits this region
Do not throw anything overboard and remove all items that can be blown overboard by the wind
Do not play music or make loud noise on open decks

These are some of the rules we are to follow. In one of the presentations about the actual Treaty, and its many amendments, it was noted that dogs, cats and chickens are no longer permitted in the Antarctic region. This is because of the fear that a domestic virus might be introduced which could mutate into a lethal disease for the indigenous species.

Also, a new aspect of the Treaty which becomes effective this July will change the way cruise ships such as the Prinsendam can travel below the 60th parallel. As I understand the new rule, any ship with a capacity of more than 500 persons is prohibited from using bunker oil, the less expensive heavy fuel most ships are powered by. Many ships such as the Prinsendam are capable of using the lighter but much more expensive diesel fuel. This will certainly affect the arability of inexpensive trips to the Antarctic in the future. The problem with the heavier fuel is that in case of an accident or spill, the environmental damage is much more severe than with the lighter fuels.

While Antarctica has no permanent residents, anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 people reside at various times of the year as participants in research projects representing many different countries. Although some of these research stations are staffed year-round, the personnel are not considered residents of Antarctica. In 1978 Emilio Marcos Palma became the first person born on the Antarctic mainland. His parents were part of a group of families sent by the Argentinean government to see if family life was suitable, or even possible, in the harsh conditions. Currently, there are several bases where families live and station schools attend to the educational needs of the children. The photos I posted earlier of red buildings in Hope Bar is the location of the first birth.

Penguins on the shelf of a huge berg

Just before dinner we passed this huge iceberg with a large group of pengins on a shelf. They were many miles from land. During dinner this evening we watched sea lions alongside the ship. After we had returned from dinner and while waiting to reach our next destination, Deception Island, we had an announcement that humpback whales had been spotted on the port side of the ship. Fortunately for us this is our side. Kay and I quickly went to the balcony and did manage to watch two for a few minutes before they disappeared. I got a few photos. They are not great, but I did see them!


Humpback Whale


We did reach Deception Island about 9:15 PM. There was still daylight, but fog had come in. Our speaker did a narration of the island but there was not much to see, but I did get some photos and can say I saw the island. Deception Island is volcano crater and still considered active. In the past it was an important whaling center. Our ship is much too large to enter the circle through Neptune’s Bellows.

Deception Island is an island in South Shetland off the Antarctic Peninsula, which has one of the safest harbors in Antarctica. A recently active volcano in 1967 and 1969 caused serious damage to the local scientific stations. The only current research bases are run by Argentina and Spain.


Neptune’s Window, Deception Island

Neptune’s Bellows, entry to Deception Island

I guess I better end. It is almost 11:00 PM and we have another early morning ahead. I hope you have enjoyed the photographs.

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3 Responses to Day 39(a) Antarctic Experience Continued

  1. Brian Jory says:

    That place is beautiful. Thank you for the photos, Wendell.

  2. Carol Gentle says:

    Deception Island looks like a lake surrounded by land. Is that how it got it’s name?

  3. Sam Hamby says:

    You have posted some great photos. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We miss you all, but I know you are having an adventure!

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