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Day 16 Deception Island-an Active Volcano Caldera
Today we head to Deception Island. This is an amazing place, a caldera--a "bowl" of collapsed land after a volcanic eruption. In fact, this is one of the few active volcanos in Antarctica. We're going to Pendulum Cove first, then to Whaler's Bay where we hear we'll have an "opportunity" for a BRIEF dip in Antarctic waters. How warm is that bay supposed to be????
We move through the narrow caldera entrance, Neptune's Bellows. This brings the ship extremely close to the walls as we enter.
We begin on the volcanic black rock beach at Pendulum Cove.
The volcano destroyed the station here several years ago. Only twisted metal and some wood pieces remain.
Our geologists, always exploring, hike up the caldera's Mt. Pound Ridge for a closer look at the rocks.
Much of the area is off limits. The scientists are trying to protect the plant life re-establishing itself here. It is a surprise to see patches of green on this dark monochromatic landscape.
We leave the beach after signing the visitor's book.
This afternoon we move to the southeast corner of Port Foster (still in the caldera) to an area known as Whaler's Bay where we find some Chinstraps, probably from the island's Baily Head colony.
We find whaling remnants here.
And the geothermal fog adds an erie atmosphere.
The fog has a sulphur smell, much like the geothermal fields we saw in Iceland. I'm amazed we find penguins on the warm sand. We watched penguins resting on their heels to lift their feet off the ground to cool off in the Falklands. Here they don't seem to avoid the heat.
These buildings are the remnants of the British Antarctic Survey survey site that was lost to volcanic activity in the 60's.
And we get ready to take a dip in the Port Foster waters.
This may seem pretty dumb but it has a long history. Before everyone was concerned about conservation, trip operators used to bring shovels and dig a trough so guests could swim in the "thermal" waters, so the ocean was cold, but not down-right freezing! Needless to say, those days are gone.
At the time it was fun. But verrry cold.
As we get dressed all we can talk about is getting back to ship and warming up in the hot tub.
Tomorrow we head 123 miles to Cuverville Island and some truly fantastic Antarctica sites. Giant icebergs at midnight? You bet!
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