We sailed into Coverville about 7:15 this morning. We looked out our cabin window, and saw a shore with another giant colony of Gentoo penguins. The bay was lovely with large icebergs. But since rain looked to be on the immediate forecast, and my camera still dead, we opted to miss this expedition, especially since our departure time was 7:30. I should feel guilty, but instead, I celebrated by having a piece of hot baguette topped with Nutella.
This morning’s lecture was all about whales. We are all quite hopeful that will be able see some orcas either today or tomorrow. In addition to the humpback whales seen frequently on the trip, some of the Zodiacs have seen Minke whales.
This afternoon we travel to Cierva Cove, mostly to see the amazing glaciers ringing the cove, and to sail amidst the brash ice, while dodging icebergs. This stop does not involve getting off the boat as the threat of high waves caused by glaciers calving is too high. As we sail toward Cierva Cove, the winds pick up and it begins to snow. Jim and I enjoyed some quiet time up on the observation deck just watching the winds blow and snow fall. However, as we enter the cove, both wind and snow die down, and we suit up for a viewing from the deck as we sail around. Humpback whales greet us at the entrance to the cove, and we see lots of different kinds of seals lying on the smaller icebergs. Mostly, they are Leopard seals, but there are also some Weddell seals and a couple of crab-eater seals.
The further we get into the cove, the slower we go, and the more you notice the quiet. Then we enter the brash ice, and soon we are surrounded by ice. What an other-worldly experience! We spend some time following the humpback whales around. I’m still trying for a better shot of a tail fluke, but with my iPhone, I’m always a bit slow on the uptake. Anyway, onwards to the Weddell Sea and another grand adventure!
During our afternoon briefing, we learned that we will be able to enter the Weddell Sea, which is something that is unheard of because the Antarctic Sound is usually blocked with sea ice. The excitement is palpable among the crew, naturalists, and tour directors, because most of them have never been there. The plan is to make a morning expedition to Penguin Point, home to 26,000 nesting pairs of Adélie penguins, or in other words, over 50,000 penguins!
Our cruise will then conclude by following the sea ice south to its furthest point before we turn around and head back.