Half Moon Island
Half Moon Island, South Shetlands Islands.
Lat: 62° 34’ S, Long: 59° 51’ W
Wind: 13 Knt WNW, Temp: 0° C (8 AM)
Our day of learning started just after breakfast with a 9:00 am – noon landing on Half Moon Island. The crescent-shaped bits of shoreline made this a very pretty spot to land and explore. We were greeted once again by the penguin ambassadors…making us giddy with delight and capturing us totally under their spell. It’s so hard not to just snap a billion photos, because not only are they close by and accessible, but they are too cute! Everyone agreed that we could watch them all day long!
The map below shows our progress in the past two days. I’m glad that our expedition leader, Greg, takes time to teach us more about each area through maps and daily updates. Every day he wakes us with his gentle voice saying “Good morning, possums.” It’s a term of endearment and we all love it. He is so knowledgeable and has years of Antarctic experience. With Greg as our guide for this trip, I’m certain that we will learn a great deal. Monika, the ship’s expedition leader, and Greg have been friends for many years and it’s already apparent that they work extremely well together. I’m thankful for their expertise on this voyage.
It was a very misty/foggy morning, and then it started to SNOW! I know that Crystal Lake, Illinois (my home town) got about 7 inches of snow. These were our first flurries here. It also was not as cold as yesterday…I think our temperature was about 32 degrees F, and there was not much wind (which can really cool things down fast around here).
This old wooden boat added a bit of mystery to the island. I’d sure like to know who used it and when it was abandoned. The penguins didn’t seem to mind sharing the beach!
Some of our little friends were out for a swim this morning. Here’s a Chinstrap penguin popping out of the water and back on the beach.
Some were trying to make the decision to hop in the water, ”You go first, no, YOU go first!”
Up and over the top of the island to the beach on the other side…through deep snow and over rocky pathways. We had some fun on the way…me making a snow angel, Wynet doing a handstand, and Danielle doing somersaults.
We hiked all the way down to the final spit of land, all the while looking across the bay to the glaciers, watching penguins, and today we added Weddell seals to our list of animals spotted so far. It was interesting to see some of the marine creatures (or their remains) on the beach. This first photo is a limpet shell. They look like little caps when turned over. I’m sure they are a tasty treat for the skuas and other gulls.
I also found a tiny sea star on the pathway.
I love to see the various types of rocks on each island. Today’s observations…
This is the first time I’ve seen a few lichens and some moss in the Antarctic. Throughout my other three experiences I was on the opposite side of the continent where it is farther south and much colder.
Weddell seals blended right in with the rocks today. That is, until they would stretch and move!
Look at the whiskers on this seal below…
And I loved zooming in on the back flippers…each animal here has adaptations that help with movement, eating, trying to keep from being eaten, and/or survival in the frigid water or on land.
Lot of kelp had washed up on shore, but don’t be fooled…it didn’t organize itself into this pattern on a rock. That was done by one of my Homeward Bound friends, Kathleen. The colors were different than I’d seen before. I’m used to kelp being more green and brown…just look at the pink and orange colors of this kelp!
This is the holdfast, the root system which would have anchored the kelp to the rocks. It must have been broken off by waves and washed to shore.
My roommate, Nicole (from Australia) and I posed for a picture. You can just make out the glaciers off in the distance behind us!
Most of us made it all the way to the end of the beach. The views were spectacular in every direction.
I like taking photos when the sky is so moody. The fog was lifting though and on our return hike to the beach for pickup, we gazed back and took in our incredible surroundings.
By noon we were heading back to the zodiacs, ready to be ferried from the island back to our ship. Shelley and I stopped along the way for a few last pictures of Half Moon Bay.
Once I was back on board the Ushuaia, I waited for the next zodiac, due to arrive at the ship’s platform at the stern (back) of the ship.
Happy travelers arriving back on board!
After lunch we spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening in our Homeward Bound leadership training course. A highlight of today’s lessons…giving thought to our values and choosing which values are important to us in terms of leadership at work. The value cards below represent just a few of many we could choose from, and are some of my personal values as well. This is a fabulous learning experience.
The leadership component of Homeward Bound is why I’m here. We are gaining important skills and improving some we already have, all to fulfill our goal of becoming more effective leaders and ready to go back home with a new vision and tools to help us affect change. Elevating the role of women world-wide is an important component of this program, and I am really enjoying this experience…and learning a lot! Thanks to Fabian and the faculty for putting together such an inspirational program for this voyage.
We ended our evening by listening to a pre-recorded video of the amazing Jane Goodall, an inspirational women-in-science. In her words, “I followed my dream and stayed true to myself.” The Homeward Bound videos entitled “Conversations with Global Voices” is an important part of our training. Watching this video confirmed for all of us why we are here on this expedition…to elevate the role of women at the leadership table and impact change. It’s been another fabulous day!
Photo: 1 Million Women website
Oh, and to top things off…drinks at the bar were served with a bit of iceberg. I guess you could say it’s a super-sized ice cube!