Saturday, December 3, 2016: Antarctica – Cuverville Island – Carol, Phil & the Momma Penguin
Today we were at a landing site at Cuverville Island located on the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s located in a small cove within a larger bay, so it’s well sheltered from the wind and seas. The sun was shining brightly which brought the temperature well above freezing. The warm sun and calm winds made for the perfect summer day here in Antarctica. As you can see in some of the pictures, the water was so flat it was almost like a mirror.
We started the day with a really nice Zodiac excursion. Our driver/guide was the same one we had yesterday and he again was full of the knowledge of the area. The Gentoo Penguins were one of the stars of the day with over 5,000 breeding pairs in the immediate area. They were everywhere – walking on the beach, swimming in the water, climbing the snow banks, making their nests.
We cruised in the Zodiac among the icebergs deep into the cove. There were icebergs of all sizes and shapes, some flat top table bergs, some domed, some very craggy and broken, but all beautiful. Our driver took us close enough that I could break off an icicle to pass around. I’ve never seen such deep blue in icebergs.
Besides all the Penguins swimming around us, we also had many birds, including Condors, flying around us. Then we rounded a corner and found a Crab Eater Seal laying upon an iceberg, enjoying the sun. We took the Zodiac all around the bergs but it didn’t bother him a bit.
We got back to the ship just in time for a quick lunch and then it was back to the Zodiac to cross over and make a landing on the shore. Again when we landed, there were Gentoo Penguins everywhere. We needed to be careful not to get in their way or step on them. We sat and watched the Penguins on the rocky beach for a while and then hiked in the snow up the steep hill to get to another Penguin colony high up on the hill.
When we got to the top, we found one particular mother penguin with her egg. No one else was around except the two of us so we enjoyed watching her protect her egg for a long time. Each time another penguin walked anywhere near her, she would lash out and peck at them, warning them to stay away from her egg.