We began a lovely Valentine’s Day with the scent of Antarctica’s most famous perfume – eau de guano. For the price, we were rewarded with the sight of big, fluffy gentoo chicks, convinced they were still small enough to fit under their parents’ warm pouches. The aroma faded as we made our way uphill, walking in the footsteps of the whalers who used D’Hainaut Island to process whale meat a century ago. They left their mark with picturesque wooden water boats, surrounded with the bones of multiple enormous whales. Towering in the distance behind two-foot-wide vertebrae, we enjoyed panoramic views of crumbling glaciers, hearing them crack and rumble as they made their terminal march into the sea.
As we neared Gerlache Strait in the afternoon, we found ourselves surrounded by humpback whales and enjoyed their show from the bridge and decks. Soon after, minke whales circled as we boarded our Zodiacs. Weaving through the icebergs of Cierva Cove, leopard seals rested lazily on ice floes surrounded by gracefully porpoising gentoo penguins. The penguins were testing their luck as minke whales greeted us from a distance. Today was a true spectacle of Antarctic wildlife, and the show isn’t over yet! Who knows what we’ll see as we continue through the Gerlache and along the Western Antarctic Peninsula, enjoying the bountiful and unique life found only in this icy and remote area of the world?