We have just returned from our first zodiac ride and landing on Antarctica and what an amazing experience it was! We spent the morning being briefed on all the safety features to do with getting on and off zodiac boats and what we were and were not allowed to do on land. We then all had to check our kit for seeds and other non native material and sign off the bio-security form.
At 2 pm groups were started to get called down to the mud room to get ready. Rebecca and I were both very excited about what would happen next. Once we were all kitted up in as many layers as we could get on plus the big parka jacket, gum boots and life jacket we were helped on to the zodiacs. We spent the first hour cruising around the bay area and getting close to Chinstrap Penguins and Antarctica Fur Seals. We did see some not so nice sights – first off a penguin that had obviously been attacked and its white belly was now red blood colour – it looked like it was just standing there waiting to die, very sad. Next we saw a couple of Skua birds going for a penguin who decided to do a massive leap off the edge of the cliff face into the water below – think it had forgotten it could not fly –I’m not sure that penguin has long to live either. It’s the circle of life and all that I guess! What struck us the most was the sheer quietness and the beautiful blue colour of the ice around us.
What seemed like no time at all our zodiac ride was over and we were heading in to shore. We got to spend an hour and a half on Half Moon Island! You cannot go closer than 5m to the animals but they can come to you so basically you just stop and the Chinstrap Penguin walks right by you. A seal also got very close to us at one point! Up in the big chinstrap rockery there was one Macaroni Penguin standing out with its yellow hair! I have to say it was just magical being so close to the animals in a truly stunning environment. And to think today was a complete bonus for us getting here so quickly over the flat Drake’s Passage!
Disclaimer: Images from 2041.com