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Since we were unable to land the previous day due to that storm, everyone — staff included — was excited and anxious to get off when we finally got view of clear skies and land.

 

But first, what would the start to the day be without a stalled zodiac?! (Don’t worry, the videos just look upside down on the thumbnail)

 

Ok now that’s done. Next, zodiac cruising around Cierva Cove…

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Leopard Seal. They sound like Wookies when vocalizing underwater. #Chewbacca
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First close-up whale sighting!

 

We go to Antarctica to fulfill dreams of setting foot on the elusive 7th continent, to see nature as unencumbered by the effects of man as possible, to witness scientific research and expedition at its best. Right?

YEAH AND FOR PENGUINS!!!

And I’ll get to the penguins in like two scrolls of the mouse but first, intermission. Back on the ship between excursions, we were blessed to see a family of Orcas hanging around.

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She swam right up the ship!*

 

Back to the task at hand: penguins. Here was my first real penguin encounter which took place at Mikkelsen Harbour. The penguins are more than cute. They’re organized, loud, stinky and can sometimes be pretty mean to one another. They steal rocks from one another’s nests all day for what actual purpose, who knows. They also tend to walk along established routes in the snow called penguin highways. I got in one’s way. My bad!

 

Pardon the wind. It was, well, windy.

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Seal spotting!
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Actually, they’re not hard to spot. They just lie around doing pretty much nothing.
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But they’re so cute! This is a Weddell seal.
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Sleepy animals.*
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Gentoo penguins. Penguin feathers are unique from any other bird. They’re tiny, dense and basically act as waterproof fur.
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It was nesting season.

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Look at all these people take pictures of that one probably very confused penguin.

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A station formerly occupied by the Argentinians but the penguins have taken it. So there’s that.
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I’m really here!
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Hiking here is a beast. And this wasn’t even the tough day.
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Penguins contemplating life*
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Actual whale bones leftover from the days of whaling past.
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And the bones of an old whaling vessel.
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Sunny side up, anyone?
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Back on the ship for the day. This literal ice bucket was carved out of a piece of glacier the team dragged out of the ocean.

Our day out in Cierva Cove and Mikkelsen Harbour more than made up for missing what should have been our first land day the day before. I left feeling like I didn’t need to take any more photos or videos or see anything else more amazing to be satisfied with my Antarctica trip.  Thankfully, I was wrong.

Up next, real hiking to higher heights at Paradise Harbour and visiting the only operational post office on the 7th continent in Port Lockroy.

 

*photo credit, Sam T. from Sydney (you know who you are!)

 

 

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