17 Feb 2024

Antarctic Expedition. Part 6. The Antarctic Peninsula and Adelie Penguins

Leaving the South Shetlands we pushed further south towards the Antarctic peninsula. We had hoped to go ashore at Brown Bluff but the wind ad swell conditions made it impossible to use the zodiacs. Instead the expedition team and captain decided to push down into the Weddell Sea and try landing at a more sheltered position further south.

What a stunning journey. Surrounded by icebergs we eased our way down into the Weddell Sea and made preparations to take the zodiacs ashore and step onto the Antarctic continent. The last continent I had yet to visit.

Map showing our route and landing point on the Antarctic Peninsula

zodiac being launched

We took an evening trip ashore on a beautiful flat calm evening wit ha fantastic sunset and surrounded by icebergs and smaller 'growlers'. We were lucky enough to see  Weddell Seals and best of all, another animal I'd hoped to see, a Leopard Seal! This was in the water and although we got good views as it surfaced and eyed the zodiacs curiously I never managed a photo. The Weddell Seals proved to be far more cooperative.

One happy birder on  the Antarctic Peninsula

What an amazing experience and we were treated to a beautiful sunset before heading back to the Plancius and slowly moving overnight to a new location at Kinnes Cove where we'd go ashore to see Adelie Penguins in the morning

Adelie Penguins are getting pushed further south as the Antarctic temperatures rise. They're no longer found in some of their old habitats and their place has been mainly taken over by the ubiquitous  Gentoo Penguins. Adelie and Emperor Penguins have the most southerly distribution of all the penguin species. Adelie's are endearing things with a white iris and a dark pupil giving them a slightly mad  look. Indeed our expedition leader, Eduardo, referred to them a his 'psychotic little friends'.As with all penguin species they nest in loose colonies or rookeries and, as with the other species we'd already seen, their presence is marked by the 'red carpet'. 

Another great experience and in with the Adelies were the usual 'clean-up' squad of Snowy Sheathbills. 

With our time around the Antarctic Peninsula running out we headed back to the Plancius for the start of the long voyage north to our next port of call - South Georgia and the promise of more penguin species and two South Georgia endemics - South Georgia Pipit and South Georgia Pintail.

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