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Day 18-Lemaire Channel, Port Lockroy and Neko Harbour
It's hard to imagine, but every day is a new adventure with new wonders. We begin early (something new and different) to enjoy a cruise through the Lemaire Channel. This is sometimes called Kodak Alley because the steep granite cliffs meet the protected, still waters, often filled with ice bergs.
Our geologists point out the volcanic folds in the granite mountains we pass.
It is lovely with the sun rising behind the mountains.
From the Lemaire, we travel to a charming, but isolated, little base at Port Lockroy. This was a British station at Jougla Point during W W II. It was built in 1944 as part of a secret "Operation Tabarin" mission to report on German activity. This was a disinformation action to establish a British foothold in the area and possibly source information actually obtained from the cracking of the Enigma machine.
You might notice the tell-tale pink patches all over the surrounding rocks. They are clustered around Bransfield House.
A large colony of Gentoos call this spot home, nesting around, beside and under the buildings.
If they left the doors open, these guys would probably nest in doors, too!
A chance for some great close-ups.
This is now a museum managed by the Antarctic Heritage Trust, a UK charity. I can't imagine how hard the living was in this little wood shelter during the 40's.
All the comforts of home--not.
They have some of the old electronics on display.
We also move to the other side of the area-Jougla Point--where more gentoos hang out.
A large collection of whale bones is also laid out here.
A gentoo serenades us, penguin-style.
Back on the ship, we have an outdoor lunch on the deck as we watch Port Lockroy fade away.
After lunch we traveled up the Neumayer Channel, crossing the Gerlache Straight, and into Andvord Bay to Neko Harbour. Named after a factory whaling ship from the 1920's, we are now hoping to see whales here. We're taking another evening zodiac cruise after dinner. From our small rubber boat, we can appreciate the immense play area Antarctic whales and seals inhabit.
Our first sighting is a giant leopard seal stretched out on the ice. Our ship makes a nice backdrop.
Did I mention their vicious reputation? And their razor-sharp canine teeth? Not sure if he was yawning or just showing us he could make our lives miserable if he wanted to....
As we ride around the bay we suddenly spot another pair of humpbacks. One is definitely smaller--maybe a calf.
The large one is as interested in us as we are in her. She moves near the zodiac.
Make that REAL near. She moves right along side us. This isn't a great shot, but there was no time to change lenses. We could have leaned over and touched her if we weren't so surprised.
This was not a scary experience. It's obvious the whales know exactly where we are and they silently and smoothly moved around us. Then, whoosh! She proceeded to cover us with whale spry. (It has a definite fishy odor...and we loved it!)
The two whales joined up again and shot away, hardly rippling the water.
The end of another boring day at the bottom of the world....
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