The morning landing at Half Moon Island started out foggy, but quickly cleared with spectacular snow covered peaks emerging from the clouds.
The aptly named Chinstrap Penguins have a colony on Half Moon Island.
A couple walks along in the snow as the Le Boreal sits at anchor in Half Moon Bay.
In the afternoon, Deception Island gave us another face of Antarctica with stark landscapes and overcast drizzly weather!
Half Moon Island and Deception Island
A day of contrasts – in relation to the weather!
As we arrived at Half Moon Island, we entered sheltered waters. When we went ashore, we found that we had entered paradise!
Half Moon Island nestles inside a bay of Livingston Island, one of the larger islands of the South Shetland chain. At end of the small island, not far from a summer-only Argentine station, there is a colony of the pugnacious, feisty chinstrap penguins. A short walk up a compacted path through the snow brought us to their colony, and a breathtaking view of nearby mountains whose glaciers tumbled down to the sea. The ice-covered mountains stood out like moulded icing to form a backdrop. 'Indescribable' was a word often uttered. Certainly, it was difficult to find adjectives to describe the splendour of the scene.
The chinstrap penguins had small chicks that could be seen nestling under their parents and adults wandered unconcernedly among us as they trudged to the sea and back. Round the corner from the colony, there were over a dozen somnolent Weddell seals to photograph on the snow.
Over lunch Le Boreal repositioned to Deception Island. The island is a flooded volcanic crater, shaped like a donut with a small bite out of it. It is called Deception because many early mariners sailed past without seeing the entrance to the flooded centre. Technically, this is a caldera, which is the enormous crater formed when a normal volcanic cone is blown apart by a gigantic eruption and collapses down into the underlying magma chamber. The 'bite' called Neptune's Bellows forms the entrance to the caldera which formed a safe anchorage for early sealers and was later a centre for the whaling industry. We landed at Whalers Bay, near the ruins of a whaling station, latterly occupied by the British as a research station. As well as wandering around the ruins, there was the opportunity for a brisk hike to Neptune's Window, a broad gap in the caldera wall for a spectacular view over the surrounding seas. And for the hardy (and foolhardy!), back at the landing place there was the opportunity for a quick dip in the sea. Normally this is warmed by volcanic heat but not today. The water temperature was a degree above freezing. But this did not deter half the company taking to the water before a rapid zodiac ride to the ship and a hot shower.