We started our adventure today at Hidden Bay, an area first explored by Gerlache in the late 1800s and named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee in 1958 as it is hidden from the north by a set of islands. The fierce weather that had been following us continued to make its presence known in the morning. As we prepared to enter our Zodiacs, the snow was falling hard and being swept into our faces with the wind. However, the sight of ice in the water, beautiful mountain peaks, and snow along the shores kept the grins on our faces as we plunged through the water to explore the bay.
On our tours around the bay, every Zodiac tour was treated to a different sight. For some, Gentoo penguins were spotted swimming in the water and leaping onto small growlers floating in the water. Other Zodiacs were lucky to catch calvings of ice thunderously falling into the water. We had our first sightings of kelp gulls accompanying the Zodiacs around the bay as well as a few Wilson storm petrels.
In the afternoon, we began cruising through the Gerlache Strait hoping to find a few cetaceans to add excitement to the day. We employed our best technique to bring these wonderful animals out of hiding, a naturalist giving a presentation on whales. Our resident whale expert and naturalist, Connor Ryan, began a wonderful talk on whales of the Southern Ocean only to spot out of the corner of his eye a Type A killer whale swimming in the distance. Having successfully lured the whales closer, we put Connor’s talk on hold to maneuver the ship closer to get a better look at these magnificent animals. After an exciting viewing of the killer whales, Connor finished his talk and we continued to make our way north in preparation for an after-dinner excursion.
After a delicious dinner, we found ourselves in Foyn Harbour, home to the wrecked Guvernoren whale ship. We set out on a Zodiac cruise and finally had the sun shining down on us and lighting up the beautiful ice-covered mountains all around us. It was a stunning sight, and with the light we found, unexpectedly, chinstrap penguins! Our fears at missing this beautiful penguin on our voyage through Antarctica were settled as we found a couple chinstraps hanging out with Gentoo penguins on the rocks. We had a host of Antarctic terns nesting in the shipwreck as well as many Antarctic cormorants nesting on the snow banks. The day began with a grey beginning but ended in a cruise through the sun-speckled beauty of Antarctica.