Antarctic Diary: 17th March – Hydrurga Rocks, Cierva Cove

Position at 0700 on 17th March
Latitude: 64°08’ S
Longitude: 61°39’ W
Course: 084°
Speed: 5.9 kts
Barometer: 1002hpa
Air temp: -1° C
Sea temp: 1° C
Wind Speed: LT AIR
Penguin count: countless!
Whale count: also countless!!

We’ve had another fun-filled day of activities, today! Christian, the expedition leader, wakes us up early with a gentle call over the tannoy – breakfast will be served from 7:00am. Before we know it, we’re heading to the mudroom, pulling on our muckboots, and carefully stepping into the awaiting Zodiac. We’re taken towards Hydrurga Rocks and we all fall silent in awe as we approach the rugged shoreline filled with penguins and seals. The penguins we see around us are called Chinstrap penguins – they get their name from the distinctive black line along their chin, which resembles a chinstrap. They clamber about the rocks around us, making their way in and out of the water. These are the most common penguins in the Antarctic, they are amazing swimmers and can swim up to 25km per hour.

We approach the land and climb out, careful to avoid the fighting fur seals nearby. In a small enclosure, surrounded by rocks, two fur seals approach each other and begin play fighting. They are fairly young and the fighting isn’t so serious, but it is crucial as preparation for becoming an adult in a very competitive world. Matt Iuliano of Wildhearts Creative Media sets up his recording gear and we record a short video with Pat, Aurora Expedition’s marine biologist, about the life cycle of a fur seal. With the seals providing the perfect backdrop, Gavin McCormack and Jordan C Brun also record a video about using animals as the inspiration to designing a book cover.

In the afternoon, we explore Cierva Cove on a Zodiac, taking in the wondrous and epic ice sculptures as they float on the water. Gavin McCormack and Jordan C Brun film a few more educational videos with John, the ornithologist, about the importance of sea ice, the humpback whale and orcas. Jordan C Brun spoke on landscapes, tone and colouration and we finish the day watching the sun sink into the horizon.

As an after dinner treat, Dr Karl speaks on the subject of ‘Weird Science’ and after much fun and laughter, it’s time for Team Frosty Five to rest, ahead of the voyage towards South Georgia across the Scotia Sea.

See you tomorrow and thanks for reading!

Tanya, Gavin, Graeme, Jordan & Matt