Monday, November 23, 2009

Lemaire Channel, Booth Island, Sailing South, Saturday, November 21

7:00 AM, we cruse through the Lemaire Channel. Very narrow, very tall snow-covered mountains on both sides, bergy bits, brash ice, broken sea ice, growler Ice in the sea (There seems to be a variety of names for different kinds of ice in water).
At the south end of the channel, we stop at Booth Island--one of only a few places where all three species of brush-tale penguins breed in the same ares--Chinstraps, Adelie and Gentoo Penguins. This time I just sat down on a rock and watched the penguins--ended up with one about 2 feet from me.

We also kayaked here. It was a very calm bay but with lots of small chunks of ice. We were warned not to get too close to any chunks of ice over about 3 feet tall (anything you can not see the top of). (Some are over 20 feet tall.) Large chunks of ice can break off or the ice could roll over--either of which would not be good for a close by small kayak. The kayaks are inflatable--which means they are extremely stable. They wouldn’t be good in any wind since they sit very high in the water.

In the afternoon we started “sailing south” to see “how far we can get.” We stopped about 9:00 PM at 65 degrees 45.255 minutes south latitude and 64 degrees 34.6 minutes west longitude. The ice just was too thick to go futher--about a degree short of the Antarctic Circle. Spent time until about 11 PM there taking pictures in really cool lighting.

The recap concentrated on Orkas--we saw two pods of them today. One for an extended period. Interesting fact: Orkas are tool using animals. They have been documented (including by Lindblad nature staff) creating waves to break=up sea Ice and wash seals on the Ice into the sea. First they create upwellings by swimming vertically to break-up the ice and to separate the pieces of ice. Then three to four swuim fast toward the piece of ice with the seal on it to create a large wave to wash the seal off the ice. They are using water as a tool to get at the seals. They have even been documented practicing the techniques and teaching the techniques to calves.

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