Sunday, December 22, 2019

Antarctica - Day 9 - Part 2

December 6, 2019

After lunch, it was time to kick back a bit in the lounge and share stories with people about the trip so far.  A number of people were working on photos but I was just spending most of my time making 2 full backups of all the shots I'd taken so far.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever get down here again, so wanting to be extra careful and get two copies of everything JUST in case one of my hard drive backups went bad.

While waiting for my group's turn to get out on the Zodiacs and cruise around Cierva Cove, there was some big excitement, as a group of whales came up really close to the ship and were actively feeding. Until now most whales we'd seen were hundreds of yards away but this group was probably less than 50-75 feet from us.   Everyone grabbed their cameras and rushed to the deck in hopes to get some great shots.

There was a moment when we all thought we were going to see something extraordinary, when we could see the whales begin to build a bubble net!  I don't know how well you can see it in this photo, but the whales began to circle and blow bubbles which helps them gather their prey into a nice tight group so that they can then swoop up and get more in each mouthful.  If you've ever seen video or photos of a group of whales with their mouths wide open punching through the surface of the water, that's what I thought were were going to see here!

Everyone had their camera's ready and you could hear the excited voices thinking we were about to get a GREAT show, but sadly this group of whales was just going to tease us, and they ended up feeding just below the surface instead. So we didn't get those amazing shots, but still got a really fun show as the whales just slowly moved back and forth next to the ship, slowly feeding and from time to time showing their dorsal fins, and every once in a while, giving as a quick view of their tails as the would go into a deeper dive for a few minutes.   Here are just a few photos of the whales in action: 

They stayed right next to us for close to 20 minutes before finally moving on and out of site of the ship. Even though we didn't get the epic type of show, it was still so very cool to watch them up so close to us.

At 16:00, it was finally time for the second half of us to climb aboard the Zodiacs and head out into the cove.  There was a lot more ice here although much of it was smaller than what we saw yesterday. The Pro that was in our boat had scoped out a very cool area with the first group, and asked our driver to hurry and take us there first to start the ride.  The thinking was it was much further out than most of the other Zodiacs would go so we'd have it all to ourselves, and if we started off as far away as we dared go, we could take our time out there, and then slowly work our way back to the ship.

Cierva   Cove  lies   at   the   western   side   of   the   Antarctic Peninsula in the northern
entrance of the Gerlache Strait. In the  vicinity,  there  is  an  Argentinean  station  (Primavera
Station).  It  is  truly another beautiful  area  surrounded  by  spectacular glaciers and as we headed across the water you could really see just how big those glaciers were!

 The first shot most everyone wanted to take of course, was another photo of the ship from on the water just below it  After that, we were off and running across the bay.

Here are just some of the views we had once we got to the far end of the bay. It's really hard to judge how tall these glacier walls were, but if I had to guess, I'd say they were about as high as a 6 story building.

Once we all shot tons of photos in and around those big glaciers, we began to slowly head back toward the ship and pass a number of very interesting looking icebergs.  One cool thing I started to spot on some of them, were these long icicles hanging down from the edges, where you could see that the snow on top had begun to melt during the warm days and as the water ran down and dripped into the sea, it would freeze again at night as the temps dropped.  It was pretty interesting to me...  

Here is a quick look at a few of the rock formations poking out of all that ice and snow.

The icebergs here are so seriously blue when the light hits them just right.  Here you can really see that blue and how it almost seems to glow from deep inside.

Just for fun I'm including a couple of shots with another Zodiac in the photo for scale.  We were cruising around this one berg with a cool arch in it when suddenly another Zodiac pulled in front of the arch on the other side.  We were soon all shooting photos of each other through the arch. LOL

In this shot, you can see just how full the bay was with all kinds of small chunks of ice.  I'm guessing most of these were from all kinds of small chunks breaking off of the big glaciers from earlier and then those chunks slowly melting and breaking down over time.

Once back on the ship, it was time to get out of the extra layers and waterproof stuff and into street clothes.  Before dinner was served, there was a quick lightroom class on the Develop module. It's always interesting to me to see and hear how others use Lightroom to edit their photos.

There was also a quick briefing by the expedition leader about tomorrows activities and then it was off to dinner.   The first few days on the ship, a group of 6 of us had found a nice small and quiet back room to sit and have our meals in.  Turns out the secret was out and when we got in the dining room, our table had been overtaken by another group.  We moved to another table in the room even though it wasn't set up for meals, and the crew was more than happy to bring us what we needed to sit there since they knew we'd used that room every meal until now. 

After dinner there was one more talk given.  This one was on the mammals of Antarctica and then after that it was everyone to themselves.  Once again, the large majority of people headed off to bed, and the usual suspects kept looking out the window, knowing we could possibly had yet another beautiful sunset ahead of us.  I mean, who can sleep when the weather looks like this?

Once again we stayed up really late, taking lots of photos, and then when the light stopped changing and we felt satisfied with our photos, it was time to head off to bed to try to get at least a few hours of sleep.

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