This was our first day in Antarctica but before I get to today’s exciting activities, I’m going to make you sit through a history lesson about Otto Nordenskjold’s 1901-1904 Swedish Antarctic Expedition – Also known as the Antarctic Rescue or the Great Antarctic Coincidence depending on your point of view.
Otto set out in 1901 aboard the “Antarctic” with the plan of traveling from Ushuaia, through the “Antarctic Sound,” named after this boat not the location, and arriving in Hope Bay to establish a research site. He and his crew were supposed to spend the summer and winter at this site and the “Antarctic” would arrive the following year to pick them up.
However, when that time came around, no ship. Of course, the men were worried because worst case scenario, the boat sank before arriving back at the Falkland Island’s and no one knew where they had decided to set up camp. Anyway, after the next winter, they encountered a couple of men. On the ice in the middle of nowhere. These men had been sent to rescue them from a rescue boat called the Uruguay (Seen in Buenos Aires)
Then they encountered more men. These men were from the “Antarctic.” It turned out that the “Antarctic” had made it back to port and had shared the location of Otto’s camp. But on it’s way back through the sound, the “Antarctic” had gotten stuck in ice and sank. The men from the boat made their way to nearby Paulet Island where they built a stone hut. And survived the winter. Well, one died but supposedly he was already sick. The next summer, they set out across the ice to meet up with Otto. And were all rescued by the Uruguay.
Their stone hut is still visible on Paulet Island.
Fortunately (Or unfortunately, depending on you viewpoint at the end of this story), this island is also home to 100,000 pairs of Adelie penguins who are now using the hut as a nest.
And these penguins provided food and fuel for the stranded crew members.
But since this volcanic island is home to so many penguins, it has a distinctive pink wash of guano, which, on occasions, can be smelt from miles away.
It’s a pretty dry island so the smell doesn’t seem so bad compared to some of our other locations. But the smell stays with you. The poo stays on the boots and take more then 10 mins to clean. That stuff is like concrete! On the backpack that you wore ashore. And even in your hat and mittens. When we got back, we washed everything and yet, sometimes I still catch a whiff!
Keith is voting that we create a scratch and sniff postcard so that everyone getsto experience what Antarctica really smells like. When everyone else is admiring these beautiful pictures, I probably will never be able to get past the accompanying smell.
This Island also has a glacier lake just behind the penguin colony. This lake was the source of fresh water for the stranded crew of the “Antarctic.” Only one problem, this water included the runoff from the penguin colony. Yes, the lake was full of penguin poo. I’m sure it was very nutritious.
But I can’t find that picture, so instead for your viewing pleasure, more penguins!
Oh, I almost forgot. Earlier today, we took a zodiac tour of the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea is full of fast moving ice and it’s easy to understand how a ship can quickly become trapped in ice.
But we visited several large ice burgs, saw a Weddell seal, and generally enjoyed the area.
This area of Antarctica is rarely, if ever, visited by cruise ships so it felt pretty special. And it was no small feet navigating the boat around the iceburg. But the current captain of the Le Borreal, has a great sense of adventure and is willing to push beyond the status quo to get us into the most interesting places.
OK, I’m off to find that elusive whiff of penguin poo that I know is coming from somewhere. I’m going to be upset if I take this smell home with me.