Last Antarctic Stop: Port Lockroy

For our last stops in Antarctica we stopped at Jougla Point on Wienke Island and Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. At both islands we saw many of the Gentoo penguins. At this time of year there are two interesting things to watch. First there are the chicks that are getting fairly big and are running all around but are still in their young grayish feathers. The second thing that we saw a lot of is molting penguins. Adult penguins will stand completely still in a single spot and over the course of a week will loose their feathers and grow new ones. Because they are using all their energy for molting and are not even eating it is very important that they not be disturbed and use extra energy to walk away from us. We were always on the look-out for these molting birds and would keep well away.

Both of these spots were used extensively for whaling in the early 1900s and there are many bones scattered around randomly. Karen, one of the naturalists on the trip brought us to one very unusual site where their was a full and complete skeleton of a humpback whale. It was fascinating to see the size of the whale up close, but it was puzzling how the complete skeleton would have remained so perfect. Karen solved the mystery for us but explaining that in the mid 1900s explorers that were trapped on the island used the whale bones as a puzzle to keep themselves occupied and it remains there to this day.

The station at Port Lockroy is a now a british historical site that we visited, but was originally set up in 1944 to monitor for German submarines. They have restored the station to how it looked in the mid 40s and it is fascinating to see how they lived. There is also now a post office and a very small gift shop.

We left land in Antarctica for the last time and are starting the journey home!

-Colin

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