Land Ho!

Land Ho!
February 18

Today when we awoke, we were offshore of the Bellinghausen station. They
sent a boat out to gather their supplies and then we were off to Copa.
At Copa, the weather was still good so we were all able to go ashore to
the station in zodiacs. It took several trips to ferry all of
the supplies and people, but it was well worth it.

The NCSU Research Team at Copa

The Hawaii Research Team at Copa

The station looked quite different from our last visit seven years ago.
Last time there was a blanket of snow and ice everywhere. This time, the
ground was covered with grass and moss! Invasive species have become a
real issue in the South Shetland Islands as the maritime climate warms.
When we returned to the ship, we had to scrub our boots thoroughly so we
would not transport seeds or insects further south along the peninsula.

The highlight of the day was spending time with the penguins. There were
gentoo and chinstrap penguins as far as we could see. Many penguins
had young chicks on their nests and older fledgelings nearby. Skuas
were circling and doing their best to pick off the weaker chicks. We saw
several skeletons leftover from previous meals. One of the scientists at
the station remarked that it was very late in the season for the penguins
to be nesting.

Before we returned to the ship we snapped two group photos of the
scientists. Now we are en route to Palmer Station.

Location: 62 degrees 30.365 minutes South, 58 degrees 47.216 minutes West
Speed over ground: 9.7 knots
Heading: 26.7 degrees
Air temp 3.1 degrees C; Water temp 1.638 degrees C

1 Comment:

  1. MARY said...
    Are the penguins jittery when humans arrive? Is this an area where the tourist ships stop or have these penguins not had to deal with many humans before? I'm just curious how close you would go and how they reacted to you.

    Also-- thanks for the photos and descriptions of the living spaces!

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