Antarctica: Home To Odd Animals

Stretching from the tip of South America to Antarctica, Drake’s Passage is some of the world’s hardest water to cross. The water is not calmed by any kind of land in this 400 mile stretch of water. Several currents bump into each other here, and the weather is terrible. I only hoped to see icebergs and penguins. I had no idea what to expect. I did not know the political alliances, the lay of the land, nor did I have any concept of the wild, unrestrained power there.

While prior to setting sail we had been intimidated by the potential rage of Drake’s Passage, the sea gods were kind on the trip out. Sailing for home, however, the passage was clearly the terrible place we’d been told about. On our initial morning in Antarctica we arose to a gray, but tranquil, sea.

All we could see off in the distance were gray-brown mountains covered in snow, but soon enough we had our first ice sighting. Little ice chunks bobbed like crystallized marshmallows near the boat. I grabbed my parka, zipped into my parka – expedition red, and standard issue to all newcomers – and rushed into the freezing Antarctic day.

We stood on deck as penguins flew into the air, much to the excitement of the crowd. Whales and dolphins frolicked in the gun metal sea and choppy waves. Naturalists presented slide shows and discussions under a lowering sky. We had high expectations setting off in the small raft, putting the mother ship to our stern and closely approaching the bobbing chunks of ice. Penguins lined the shoreline and contemplated the water. They stood on an icy, rocky island and considered us as we floated by.

Our little group was completely surrounded by penguins. Itty bitty little gentoo penguins were kind enough to share their little island in Paradise harbor with a group of researchers like us! They waddle about, looking like they have things to do and people to see. Some of the penguins were content to stand on rocks and stare at the funny beings dressed in red and pointing at them. Most penguin parents had already left their chicks to survive on their own. And many of those kids were still trying to figure out what they were supposed to be doing. At this point in their lives they are usually provided with a down covered sack of krill – food that their parents catch and then regurgitate into their chick’s mouth until they are old enough to hunt on their own.

They’d also started to molt. Most of their baby coats were gone, but some patches remained where the birds couldn’t really reach. They looked as if they had on hats and earmuffs or had gone to the barber for a punk hair cut. Of necessity, our trip back to the ship took us through the chunks of floating ice on the bay. One seal stretched out on top small iceberg. Maybe he was commenting on how boring we were when he gave us a giant yawn.

The penguins were completely and utterly charming, and every bit as irresistible as their pictures made them seem. I think it has something to do with their waddle. Their odd, formal black and white coloring paired with their flappy, webbed orange feet gives them a signature, and adorable look. The island had lots more rock than actual dirt, so the penguins were more tidy. There was even a thin little black line under their chinny chin chins that gave them a jaunty little dash of style which made their cheeks look chubby and cute.
Sabung Ayam
Er̦ffnungskonzert РChick Corea & Steve Gadd Band

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