Antarctic Diary: 25th March onwards – Salisbury Plain, Elsehul & days at sea

Position at 0700 on 25th March
Latitude: 54°16’2” S
Longitude: 036°15’6” W
Course: 222°
Speed: 10.8 kts
Barometer: 996 hpa
Air temp: 3° C
Sea temp: 1.5° C
Wind Speed: N 3
Penguin count: countless!
Whale count: also countless!!

Our Antarctic journey is coming to a close, though we still have this one day of shore landings to experience. We are up at a reasonable hour (7am) to have breakfast before heading to our first landing – Salisbury Plain. We approach the shore in our Zodiac and the scene before us is one we can hardly describe – perhaps the pictures will do it justice! Thousands of fur seal pups dance and swirl in the shallow waters as we try to disembark onto the land. There, we see thousands of King penguins covering the plain, cawing to each other, with the chicks at their feet crowing for food. King penguin males and females take equal responsibility over the rearing of their chick, with both parents routinely venturing on fishing trips to fatten up the chick before the winter comes.

We set up our recording gear for a brilliant lesson with John on the Antarctic Skua, predator of the unhatched King penguin eggs. The noise we hear, the continuous cacophonous cawing of the penguins, serves as a warning to the rest of the colony when Skuas are lurking. We also record a lesson about the four tiers of the Antarctic food web, starting from diatoms at the bottom to the apex predator, the wolf of the sea – the orca – at the top.

Later, we film the introductory video for the 10-week course ‘The Power of One’ with the penguins all gathering around us, and in some sort of crazy/beautiful moment, Gavin says to the camera “…during this course you will understand how the small changes you make affect each and every animal in Antarctica, including these four penguins here…” and a parade of penguins march across the scene in front of him, as if to emphasise his point!

What an absolutely epic and beautiful way to end our adventure. The next few days are spent at sea as we head home, while previewing and editing all the content we’d created for Upschool and reflecting on the journey. Initially, we started with a plan to record 20 educational video lessons, however, after seeing and experiencing the marvels that Antarctica has to offer, we leave this wondrous continent with over 70 learning sequences!

Thank you all for following along and we do hope that you enjoy the course when it becomes available. “Alone we can change today, but together we can change forever!”

See you again and thanks for reading!

Tanya, Gavin, Graeme, Jordan & Matt