Penguins go planking (looks mightily comfortable)
As Antarctic landings go, Half Moon Island is just about every traveller’s wild fantasy– Chinstrap penguins abound the very minute you land, Weddell seals and fur seals napping on the beach like giant sausages on rocks, beautiful snow capped mountains all around.
What isn’t so nice, but is nonetheless a good peek into the circle of life, are the penguin skeletons. As a fellow traveller called it, this was “Massacre Bay”. Here you’d see a sliver of a penguin fin, there a hollowed out penguin with the feathers and body shape still intact. Of the more horrific things I saw was a bloody penguin skeleton; there was no meat attached at all save for the webbed feet, but the entire spine was a deep red. Oh, spare me.
On the brighter side, I am so, so glad I chose this time to visit Antarctica. They weren’t kidding about January being prime time for seeing penguin chicks. And as penguin chicks go, the Chinstraps are hands down the cutest of chicks after the Emperors. Lacking some restraint, you could well end up kidnapping one as a souvenir.
After much running around and making our cameras happy, we bade farewell to dry land for a few days again and headed back to the Orlova… but not before someone literally stumbled over a slumbering seal. Good camouflage has its drawbacks sometimes. But I suppose that’s what the blubber is for as well.
Big Foot on the go
Chinstrap on the left: “Who, me?”
Chinstrap and chick looking awfully snug
A well-camouflaged Weddell seal blissfully napping away
Kelp Gull Jr. tries its wings
Pat will always be remembered first and foremost for his insane zodiac driving
Ship doctor Joe, who kept us all alive through our difficult Drake crossing