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Day 15 - King George Island and Antarctica Landfall at Esperanza
Today we hit heavy fog at sea as we head for continental Antarctica. Oh, yea, there are many ice bergs floating around. Even with all the modern sonar doo-dads, it's slow going.
Initially we land in the South Sandwich Islands at King George Island, 75 miles off Antarctica. After a long history of countries claiming the island, there are now "research stations" from multiple nations including Argentina. Under an international treaty, no country can lay claim to land, mineral or fishing rights to Antarctica. This is constantly under dispute and the treaty itself is up for review in a few years...
We land in Admiralty Bay and watch Chinstraps rock-hopping. Amazing to watch them balance as they jump over the rocks along the shore.
An Adelie, with its unique white-ringed eye, hops into the water right in front of us.
We find some krill, the pink crustaceans that are the base of the food chain in the area. We placed them on some kelp for sizing. Krill is the reason the area around penguin colonies has a pink color. Don't eat pink snow!
Moving toward the mainland, we must pass very close to ice bergs.
And we search the ice flows for a stray Emperor Penguin. They live much further south, but occasionally visitors get lucky. This is a blow-up of a tiny portion of a picture. Unfortunately, this was probably a King Penguin--too small for an Emperor.
Then we get our first view of Argentina's Esperanza Station and the magnificent mountains that form its backdrop.
We finally hit my seventh continent--Antarctica.
Fun stop--this is Adelie land. The colony is huge.
Beautiful birds. They look like they have blue eyes with the white ring around their pupils.
And these penguins are true clowns. First they slide up hill.
Then down the hill.
Then they just march in all different directions.
We saw many cute fuzzy gray chicks, as well.
Some with their moms getting fed.
I think these were my favorite penguins.
Here's a map of our Antarctic travels.
From here we head to a swim (really) at Deception Island!
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