Through the Lemaire Channel

Lemaire ChannelIt was a bit foggy in the Lemaire Channel. Navigating through this narrow piece of geography in between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island, trying to evade the icebergs can’t have been easy, in the past or now.

The weather conditions successfully prevented big landscape pictures, but there was enough to discover close to the ship. tracksPenguins tracks covered several of the ice floes.

The penguins themselves porpoised through the water. porpoisingOr, when the fog lifted somewhat, we could see small colonies and the highways in between them.colony The ice floes were also good places to spot seals. This is a Weddell seal, I unfortunately missed the Leopard seal. Need to go again!seal

The ice itself was always worth a second look. Sometimes, it was possible to see the underwater-bit.ice

When we left the Channel, the weather cleared and we were also reminded that we were not completely bereft of other humans.cruiseship

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Amongst the Ice

mapWe had been cruising somewhere between the Antarctic Peninsula and Wiencke Island, when we hit ice. ice 4Its peculiar shape has led to its name, pancake ice. There was no continuous ice surface, just small floes and slush in between.

The ship had also been built to deal with exactly this kind of condition. Every now and then we could hear a loud, low-pitch bang – must have been biggisher pieces of ice.

So we spent time on deck, watching the ice, when someone pointed out a penguin swimming close to the ship. This was in itself quite rare, they tend to swim away. Then I took a picture of the penguin and won the bird jackpot of the trip.emperor penguin An Emperor, completely out of place. Their colonies are in other places on the continent. Birders pay tens of thousands of dollars to see them. I was the only one lucky enough to take a photo, and shared that on the Fram’s blog: http://mvfram.blogspot.com.ar/2014/12/a-busy-day-at-cuverville-and-almirante.html.

There was, however, a lot more to be seen, also some wildlife. Wilson s storm petrelWilson’s Storm Petrels kept swooping by. On some bergs, penguins had settled down for a ride (look right). ice 5ice 2Blue ice could be seen more often. Further afield, big icebergs loomed, and ice 6sometimes you couldn’t really tell the difference between them and islands. Glaciers were everywhere. ice 3What I found, again, most fascinating were the sections of calm water, where the mountains and the ice mirrored in the sea.ice 1 cloudsCan you find the ship in both photos?

Highways on Cuverville Island

Cuverville Island is a small island in the Errera Channel just off the Antarctic Peninsula. ice in iceIt is home to a lot of ice and several thousand Gentoo penguins, who have built highways in the snow. highwaysYou can clearly recognise the penguin paths.

They are used by most of the inhabitants.highway up highwayThe Gentoos were sitting on their nests, stealing and re-stealing pebbles and sometimes presenting their eggs. egg

The Imperial or Blue-eyed shags were more interested in the kelp. ShagYet another group of passengers went kayaking, and could admire the ice from very close up.kayaking On some icebergs, you could see icicles!ice 2