Finally...Antarctica!
Penguin Paradise

Antarctica's Kayak Bay

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Ice, ice, every direction we looked we were surrounded by ICE! 


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I'm not sure why this is called Kayak Bay because it would be very difficult to maneuver a kayak through these ice-filled waters. It was even challenging at times for the zodiacs to steer clear of the ice, but what a fun morning cruising around through the bay!

And yes, we had to break out the bright orange parkas for these frigid excursions!

 

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These gorgeous guys are arctic terns...


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A group of southern fulmars....beautiful gull-like birds...



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A lone gentoo penguin contemplating life atop an iceberg...


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More gentoos...

It was snowing/blowing/sleeting all morning...not the best morning to be outside. The penguins didn't mind at all.


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But the rest of us were FREEZING, so we were quite excited when this "Viking ship" (aka Explorer's hotel manager aboard a zodiac) pulled up beside us and served hot chocolate!

 

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Truly another world...


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The silence was deafening. 

And the palette of blues was breath-taking!


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A nesting pair of terns...


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The photos don't even do the brilliant blue justice. The shadows under the icebergs were just stunningly BLUE!!!


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Antarctic Shag, also commonly known as a blue-eyed shag...for obvious reasons. Shags are a type of cormorant, and very common to see.


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The most exciting wildlife sighting of the morning was  a group of 3 leopard seals, lounging on a iceberg.

A fellow guest shared this photo with us...that's Kim and me on the right side of the zodiac, just behind the photographers with the big lenses.

 

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The rest of these are photos I took from our vantage point....


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Leopard seals are considered very vicious predators, with a mouthful of long sharp teeth. Their menu staple is penguins, so it doesn't help their image to see videos of them snatching up cute penguins and slashing them through the water.


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Look at that smug grin...


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And they are big too, as large as a human...


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Second only to killer whales, leopard seals are apex predators of the region.

 

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That pretty much wrapped up our morning and we went back to the Explorer for lunch.


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Just after lunch, the National Graphic Endurance passed by us. They were a couple of days ahead of us itinerary-wise, the inaugural Antarctic voyage of that brand new ship. They were the first cruise ship (we were the second one!) to go back to Antarctica since the pandemic, and they had a news crew from Good Morning, America on board to document the trip. 

Many of our ship's crew are friends with the Endurance crew, so there was a lot of excitement and shouting and waving back and forth during our brief rendezvous in the bay. Also, there were a few zodiacs shuttling supplies and Nat Geo people between the ships.


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It wasn't long after the Endurance had sailed on that we spotted them.

ORCAS in the waters next to our ship!!!

 

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And I took oodles of photos which I had a hard time deleting, so bear with me as I share probably too many of them. This was our very first time to see killer whales in the wild, so it was a very memorable afternoon for us!


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Little baby orca following mama...


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Like humpback whales, to orca experts they are very easily identified by their unique dorsal fins.


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And when I say they were close to the ship, they were CLOSE!!! I was leaning over the side of the balcony for this shot. Too close for a good photo!

 

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Blowhole...you could even smell the fish on their "breath"!


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Cute little curious calf...


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Okay...you get the idea. We were literally surrounded by 30 or so adults and their calves for about an hour before they slowly moved away.

It was AWESOME!!! An afternoon I will never forget!


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And then, as a bonus, off in the distance we saw a few humpbacks. They migrate into the area in the Antarctic summer and were just beginning to return.

They never got very close to us, but we enjoyed seeing them from a distance.


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Snowy sheathbills were common visitors to our ship...Antarctica's version of a pigeon.



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An icy pristine wilderness...


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A wonderful day in Antarctica's Kayak Bay.

 

Comments

Emily Whaley

Love all of the pictures and so glad you were able to go on this trip!!

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