Robin's Adventures

Antarctic Expedition
A Party with Penguins


Icebergs form on land from fresh water and then break off in various sized chunks that float away in the ocean. If they are at least 16 feet above the surface of the ocean, they are classified as an iceberg. Smaller chunks, between 3 and 15 feet are called bergy bits and chunks less than 3 feet are called growlers. Brash ice is made up of large clusters of ice fragments that float on the surface of the sea.

Bergy bits and growlers are considered to be the most dangerous for ships because they are too small to be detected by radar and they are difficult to see.


Orcas, which are really the largest members of the dolphin family rather than a whale, hunt cooperatively in pods or groups of up to 40. They use echolocation to communicate to each other and to help them find their prey when hunting.

Porpoising Penguins

With the orcas nearby, we also saw several groups of porpoising penguins. This behavior allows the penguins to maintain a good forward momentum without having to stop and breathe. They can maintain a speed of about six mph and porpoising is also used to confuse underwater predators.

Rough Seas

The Scotia Sea once again provided large swells and a bumpy ride during our two at sea days.

Halfmoon Island

Halfmoon Island, which is on the Antarctic Peninsula, has beautiful cobbled beaches, many igneous outcrops and some tall slopes with steep cliffs. It is a breeding colony for Chinstrap penguins and an assortment of Antarctic birds, such as skuas, terns, and storm petrels. Much of the island is covered with snow and ice.

Chinstrap Penguins

Halfmoon Island is the site of an Argentine research base that is only in operation during the summer months. We also saw the remains of an interesting old wooden whaling boat that was a short walk inland from the beach.

The most interesting thing on the island, however, was the Chinstrap penguin colony. The diet of these penguins is mainly krill, which comes out of their digestive tract tinged pink. This is responsible for making snow and rocks in Chinstrap environments appear pink.

More Chinstrap Penguins

The Chinstrap penguin, which is about 28 inches tall, has a brush-tail, pink feet, a black bill, and a characteristic chinstrap, which is a thin black line that extends from ear to ear.

Chinstraps are the most numerous penguins in the world and the estimated world population is about 13 million.

Chinstrap Antics

Deception Island

Deception Island earned its name because although it appears to be a large round island, it is really a ring around a bay that exists where the center of the island should be. In reality, the island is the remains of a collapsed volcanic caldera, seven and a half miles across, with a very narrow opening that allows ships to sail into the central bay.

As ships pass through the narrow opening, which is called Neptune's Bellows, they are sailing right into the center of an active volcano.

Fire and Ice

Although most of the island is covered in snow and ice, there are many barren volcanic slopes and ash layered glaciers. The last eruptions took place between 1967 and 1970, although there was some significant seismic activity in 1992.

There is an old abandoned whaling base on the island and there are two seasonally operated research bases.