16 visitors from Palmer Station come aboard Le Boreal
New CO2 reading equipment is presented to Palmer Station personnel
We receive a warm welcome and tours from the folks at Palmer Station
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
The Captain gives us a look at a choked Lemaire Channel
Le Boreal - December 15, 2011
Arthur Harbor, Palmer Station
Temperature: 34° F
Wind speed: 20 knots
Cloud cover: 100%
Precipitation: Rain and Snow
The glassy sea surface and glorious lighting around sunset last night was replaced this morning by brisk winds and rain intermittently changing to snow. So we donned an extra layer before boarding zodiacs to explore the exceptional surroundings of Arthur Harbor, on the south side of Anvers Island.
Sculpted icebergs, some a gorgeous blue and others a shimmering white, were scattered about near the ship, as well as long lines of brash ice, remnants of icebergs that calved off the impressive glacier at the head of the bay. We took shelter from the wind behind small islands and in some protected coves, many of which we shared with elephant seals.
Many of the elephant seals in Arthur Harbor were immature animals and, judging by the rearing up and play-fighting behavior we saw on several occasions, some were males practicing for their big day somewhere down the road. Some of the animals we encountered were in the water, while others were sacked out on the shore.
Gentoo and chinstrap penguins were observed in small numbers on the islands, many of them lounging on the snow or perched on prominent points. An Adelie penguin colony on nearby Torgersen Island has been the subject of a long-term study spanning the past 35 years. This colony has declined by 70% since monitoring first began, 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 carbon dioxide regulator on behalf of Abercrombie & Kent. This device will be used to investigate the effect of increased carbon dioxide concentrations on the ecology of the western Antarctic Peninsula. 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.
Following lunch, we prepared to visit Palmer Station. The station tour took us to see several research buildings, the generator building, 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.
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. Following dinner, Le Boreal approached the northern entrance to the legendary Lemaire Channel, often aptly referred to as "Kodak Alley" for its spectacular scenery. This 7-mile-long and one-mile-wide channel separates Booth Island from the Antarctic continent with dramatic, towering snow-covered mountains lining the route on both sides. Once about a third of the way down the channel, the ice became too thick for us to maneuver all the way through. So we took our final looks and photographs at what is truly one of the most stunning places in Antarctica.