Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, February 21, 2019

South America : Day Thirteen : Telefon Bay, Yankee Harbour, and Southern Elephant Seals ...

We arose early for our last full day on Antarctica. Tomorrow we are due to fly back to mainland Chile. Weather permitting. 
Last night we had travelled overnight north along the Bransfield Strait and were preparing to steam through the narrow gap called Neptune’s Bellows at Deception Island into Telefon Bay. 

Deception Island is an active volcano that exploded dramatically 10,000 years ago to form a huge crater that was subsequently filled in by the sea. 10 cubic kilometres of rock had disappeared in a matter of moments. 
Telefon Bay lies in the northwest side of this filled-in crater - the whole watery area being named Port Foster. 
It was named after a salvage vessel that moored in the bay, in 1909 while waiting for repairs. 
Once we had dropped anchor, we boarded our Zodiacs and from a wide, black-sand beach we walked up a gentle slope to the rim of one of the many smaller craters that had been created from smaller explosions since the “big one” all those millennia ago. 
This is because the seismic activity has continued every since. In 1967 and again 1969 the British base here had to be evacuated due to two particularly big volcanic explosions. 
We continued to climb and saw another crater - this one with a small lake in it. The walk then continued even further up onto a ridge where there were excellent views of the caldera.

Back in the ship, after lunch, we had the inevitable Disembarkation Briefing. But we weren’t done quite yet. Oh no. 
We sailed over to nearby Yankee Harbour. 
Yankee Harbour lies between Glacier Bluff and Spit Point on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. The harbour is enclosed by a curved, stone and gravel bar and was known to American and British sealers as early as 1820.
The gravel bar was covered in thousands of gentoo penguin pairs and hundreds of fur-seals. We walked amidst them just counting our blessings. So lucky to be here. So lucky with the amazing weather. 
Then to top our trip off we boarded our Zodiac one more time and motored a short stretch across the other side of the spit to see a beach full of southern elephant seals. These massive creatures looked majestic with the huge elephantine noses. Some thundered their way down the beach and launched themselves into the waters with a huge whoosh. It was so great to see these iconic creatures. And a perfect way to finish a perfect trip to Antarctica. 
Now there was just the captain’s cocktail party back on board to navigate and the packing to complete. 
Overnight we would be sailing back to King George Island where we will be due to rendez-vous with our plane.

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