The weather was incredible for our morning zodiac tour near Palmer Station.
Enormous elephant seals piled up together on the rocky islands near Palmer Station.
Following our morning zodiac tour, the chef provided a scrumptious BBQ on deck!
Guests were given a tour of Palmer Station and learned how the researchers lived.
Two guests watched as the Le Boreal left the Lemaire Channel after attempting to transit late in the evening.
Torgersen Island, Palmer Station
We pulled back the curtains to yet another beautiful morning in Antarctica. Surely we must have accumulated some good karma after the grueling weather we experienced off of the South Shetland Islands a few days ago. Calm sea conditions and virtually no wind have become the norm on this trip ever since.
The setting for this morning's zodiac cruise around Torgersen Island could not have more exceptional. Sculpted icebergs, some a gorgeous blue and others a shimmering white, were scattered about, and the brash ice clogging some of the bays made a magical clinking sound as the ocean swell moved through it. As we made our way over toward Torgersen Island and the other small islets nearby, elephant seals became a common sight in the rocky coves. Many of them were immature animals and, judging by the rearing up and roaring behavior we saw on several occasions, some were males practicing for their big day somewhere down the road. Some of the animals were in the water, while others were sacked out on the shore.
Gentoo and chinstrap penguins were observed in small numbers on the islands and in the water, many of them lounging on the snow or porpoising around the channels. An Adelie penguin colony was an obvious feature on the island, and may have been part of the reason that a leopard seal was seen in the vicinity. The Adelie colony here has declined by 70% over the past 35 years, possibly due to the effects of climate change.
Back on the ship, some staff from nearby Palmer Station came aboard to talk to us about the base and the research program that goes on there. Following the presentation, Marine Biologist Jim McClintock presented the station with a photographic microscope on behalf of Abercrombie & Kent. The staff from Palmer was very excited about the new scientific equipment, and we were all very pleased to be playing a part in furthering research about this remarkable continent.
Palmer Station is a US station that was built on the southern shore of Anvers Island in 1968. Near the station lie the nearly submerged remains of the ship Bahia Paraiso, which sank off the coast on 28 January 1989, creating one of Antarctica's worst environmental disasters. Following lunch, we prepared to visit Palmer Station.
We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to land at the station, since they normally do not accept visits from groups larger than 150 people. However, because our marine biologist Jim McClintock is a researcher there, we were granted permission to come ashore and tour the facility. The station tour took us to see the workshops, laboratories, and other assorted facilities. We then made our way to their store and later to a lounge where they served us brownies and coffee. It was very interesting talking to the researchers and staff, and getting a sense for what it would be like to work in such a remote but beautiful environment.
The wind had picked up a bit during the afternoon ashore, and the sky that was so blue this morning had faded to grey. Before dinner, we gathered for Recap in The Theater with the Expedition Team, heard our plans for tomorrow from Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs, and gathered at the dinner table to tell stories of our fantastic day at Palmer Station.