Robin's Adventures

Antarctic Expedition
A Party with Penguins

Telefon Bay

We went ashore on Deception Island at a place called Telefon Bay. Our hike took us along a black sand beach and up a large ash hill to some cliffs overlooking a volcanic crater.

There did not seem to be any living things in this harsh environment, with the exception of a lone Weddell seal that had hauled out on the beach to take a nap. These seals have very sensitive whiskers that help them during the Antarctic winter when there is no light under the ice where they hunt. They can actually detect the wake of swimming fish with their whiskers.

Caldera View

While we were on our hike, the weather turned ugly with strong winds blowing sharp snow crystals horizontally into our faces. Once at the top, however, the view of the crater made the hike worthwhile. Besides, on the way down the wind and snow would be at our backs and when we returned to the ship a warm beverage would be waiting for us.

Cuverville Island

Large pebbles cover the long meandering beach on Cuverville Island and there is also a rocky cove filled with beautiful icebergs. The island has the largest known colony of Gentoo penguins, about 6,500 breeding pairs. Shags and petrels are also known to breed on the island.

Time for a Swim

Gentoos eat fish, squid, and krill, although 85% of their diet is krill. They can dive up to 650 feet and stay under water for up to seven minutes.

Trekking to the Penguin Colony

Gentoo penguins build circular nests out of the materials at hand, small rocks, sticks, and moss. Penguins are notorious rock thieves and will steal rocks from other nests while fiercely defending their own.

Traffic Jam

Penguins tend to follow the same path from the colony down to the ocean. After a while, the snow compresses and a penguin highway is formed. Once the snow is compressed, this becomes the easiest route and all of the penguins follow in a nice neat line down the path.

Nesting Gentoos

Female Gentoos lay two eggs and incubation takes about 34 to 36 days. Chicks stay in the nest another 30 days before forming creches. When they are 80 to 100 days old, the chicks are ready to go to sea.

Tasty Treats for the Chicks

Both parents share the responsibilities of incubating the egg and caring for the chicks. One parent stays at the nest while the other is hunting at sea and then the parents switch roles.

The parent who is returning from the hunt regurgitates some of the food and the chicks eat it right out of the parent's mouth.

Feeding Time in the Gentoo Nursery

Among the Icebergs

Before returning to the ship, we rode around in the zodiac among the icebergs. The motion of the ocean water eroded the ice away in many unique and interesting patterns so that each iceberg looked like a free form sculpture.

An up close examination of the bergs allowed us to appreciate the many different shapes and textures as well as the pale blue color that was reflected off of the ice. It was a magical experience.