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Antarctica 2023

Aboard The Seabourn Pursuit - Dec 05 - 19 2023
This voyage was my 5th time visiting Antarctica over the years. It's a place I just adore and I love to share my experiences there. This time I was serving as a special guest host for Six Star Travel, who organized a small group of travellers to travel aboard the Seabourn Pursuit, which I must say is a spectacular ship. It is brand new and was only launched about 4 months ago. I travelled from Toronto to Buenos Aires, stayed there for a couple of days, then carried on to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world where we boarded the ship. From there, it took almost 2 days to cross the Drake Passage, and I must say... This was probably the smoothest crossing of the Drake that I've ever experienced. The "Drake Lake" as some call it. The last time I did this, it was in VERY stormy seas.

2023 12 10 Half Moon Island
Today was our first landing in Antarctica. Half Moon island is tiny, but it is well protected from the elements and we had great luck with the weather. It was sunny when we went ashore, and I was overheating from being over-dressed.

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A gorgeous blue iceberg greets us as we approach Half Moon Island.
The Antarctic Peninsula is home to some spectacular, and very steep mountains, right up against the sea.
The weather clears as we get ready to go ashore for our first landing of the trip.

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2 species of penguins: chin strap & gentoo.
The rocky beaches are a great place for penguins to gather pebbles to build their nests with.
Gentoo penguins take advantage of their streamlined bodies and strong flippers in the water to dive more than 600 feet deep and swim up to 22 miles an hour, the fastest of any other diving bird.

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Gentoos are one of the rarest of the Antarctic penguins, with only about 300,000 breeding pairs.
I brought my flag of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society with me, as I do on all my travels.
Crepuscular rays of light stream down through the clouds.

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Of course, most of the ice from these icebergs is underwater, out of view.
Because we're at such a low latitude, the nice evening light lasts for a very long time.
A gorgeous Antarctic sunset.

 

2023 12 11 Gerlache Strait & Paradise Harbour & Brown Station
Today we did some Zodiac cruising around Paradise Harbour and set foot on the Antarctic continent mainland at Brown Station. The glaciers and icebergs here were spectacular, and we were treated to lots of wildlife too.

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A leopard seal. These are apex predators here. They often feed on the penguins found in this area. They have some very impressive teeth.
Gentoo penguin coming in for their closeup.
The ship captain and crew did a great job of navigating through the icebergs.

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Our ship, the Seabourn Pursuit.
I just love this vast expanse of icebergs.
Dark shades of blue icebergs.

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A tabular iceberg. These have broken off from floating ice sheets and some can be huge.
There are so many glaciers here, most of them don't even have names.
One of the Zodiacs, cruising around the icebergs and glaciers.

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A humpback whale getting ready to dive.
A lone penguin on an iceberg.
Ice cave carved out of the side of a glacier.

 

2023 12 12 Danco Island Ashore & Chiriguano Bay Zodiac & Submarine
The weather today was bit more challenging with heavy snow, but that didn't slow us down. In fact today was the busiest day. It started with a shore excursion on Danco Island, then some Zodiac cruising, then in the late afternoon I was able to dive down in the Seabourn Pursuit's submersible. We got down to a depth of 570 feet (174 meters). Learn more about the submarine dive here.

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These four were on their way down to the ocean.
Penguin colony on Danco island.
Gentoo about to head out to sea.

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The snow got pretty intense as we hiked up to get a better look at one of the penguin colonies.
I just love this scene of penguins, snow, and icebergs.
The submersible we dove down to the Antarctic sea floor in. More info about the dive can be found here.

 

2023 12 13 Port Charcot Ashore & Pleneau Cruise & Lemaire Channel
Another great day in Antarctica. We continued south down through the Lemaire channel and spent the day down at Charcot & Pleneau where we saw some really amazing icebergs and got to go ashore again amongst the penguins.

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Gentoo & chin strap penguins.
Amazing sky and icebergs. The clouds looked so surreal.
A very dirty penguin.

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Layers of icebergs.
A dark stripe in an iceberg. Likely caused by dirt that accumulated on the glacier before the iceberg calved off.
March of the penguins.

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The Seabourn Pursuit behind a big iceberg.
Cruising around in Pleneau amongst the countless icebergs.
The edge of one of the countless glaciers

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Layers in this iceberg showing how the snow piles up on the glacier before the iceberg breaks off.
My view from the bow of the ship.
The Lemaire Channel.

 

2023 12 14 Neko Harbour Ashore
In my numerous visits to Antarctica over the years, I've been able to visit Neko Harbour many times. I find it to be one of the most beautiful parts of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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More striped icebergs in Neko Harbour.
The penguins have been having a hard time this season. Late snowfall has kept the rocks they use to build their nests covered for much longer than usual. This time of year, the chicks are usually starting to hatch.
Gentoo guarding her egg. Another threat the penguins face is bird flu. There's cases of it in the nearby South Georgia Islands, so we had to take extra precautions by keeping our distance.

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The penguin colony here sits right beside a very active glacier.
The sun comes out and shows us the vast beauty of Neko Harbour.
Glacier selfie.

 

2023 12 15 Hope Bay Cruising
The Bay was discovered on January 15, 1902 by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition under Otto Nordenskiöld, who named it in commemoration of the winter spent there by his expedition after his ship (the Antarctic) was crushed by the ice and lost. They were eventually rescued.
The weather today didn't look very promising because the visibility was limited due to fog. We went out for a Zodiac cruise, and had a great time, the fog made for an ethereal mood, and there was plenty of wildlife to see including seals and a huge colony of adelie penguins.
 
Later in the day, the weather cleared up and we relocated so that the passengers had the opportunity to do a "Polar Plunge". Of course I did it, but wow, that water is cold!

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A Weddell Seal, chilling out on an iceberg.
Adelie penguins "porpoising" through the water beside our Zodiac.
Members of the nearby adelie penguin colony having a little get-together on a beautiful blue iceberg.

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There were SO many adelie penguins in the water. They're so graceful when at sea. It's remarkable.
The aftermath of a leopard seal attack on a penguin. They catch them, then shake them hard enough to remove the feathers & skin.
Taking the "Polar Plunge" off the side of the Seabourn Pursuit. The water temperature was -1.8°C. Sea water has a lower freezing point than fresh water, so yeah... It was cold!

 

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