South Pole Emperor Odyssey 2015

Dec 03


Published at 10:47
Dispatch created from email
It's a waiting game here in Antarctica. Weather, planes and personnel need to align in order for anything to happen. The usual Emperor penguin site at Atka Bay over 700km away is closed for another week due to bad weather so we were granted permission to go to a new site never before visited by a tourist group. But to get there we needed two aircraft, the Basler carrying some fuel drums to get us nearby and then a Twin Otter, which doesn't have the range to get us there without refueling, to land on the sea ice near the colony, a place the Basler is unable to land.

And what a site! A big frozen bay in the wall of an ice shelf is a natural haven for a penguin rookery, sheltered on three sides from the ferocious katabatic winds funneling from the plateau. The weather was still and cloudless and the smell and squawk of Emperors met us as we stepped from the plane. A short walk had us mixing with the locals, but their behaviour was a little more timid than those of Atka Bay where regular visits from staff at Neumayer Station have made them more trusting in humans.

Chicks in their fluffy coats abounded, their parents keeping a watchful eye on the many skuas circling above, looking for an opportunistic feed. We spent two hours here before a fog rolled in from the plateau, scurrying us into the plane and back to the waiting Basler. Back at the Guesthouse three hours later for a late dinner and some celebratory South African red!



  • Report as abuse...
    2015-12-04 09:43:34 Christoph Höbenreich says: Hi Eric, was great to meet you on the ice! Our QML-team wishes you good luck and lots of fun in our dreamland QML
  • Report as abuse...
    2015-12-03 20:44:57 Joan says: Yes Eric, I agree with jumping jojo. Your notes are a pleasure to read. Never thought about the smell of a penguin rookery, but then I remembered he smell of flamingoes along a lakes edge in Botswana. Pungent.
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    2015-12-03 17:17:30 Jose Naranjo says: Nice Antarctic story. It seems a very beautiful place. Perfect ending with a South African wine. :)
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    2015-12-03 16:35:38 george says: Way to go-I am jealous but just about able to recall the smell of a Peng travels GS
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    2015-12-03 12:12:12 jumping jojo says: how absolutely gorgeous....and not just the wine!!! beautifully written and what an adventure!!! XXX

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