James Ross Island / Devil Island - Tuesday, January 4, 2005
Long: 63° 55,26 S
Lat: 57° 46,31 W
Temp: 12 C°
Water Temp: 0 C°
Wind: 50 Knts
Wind Direction: WNW
Photo ci contre : Weddel Seal (by Colin Baird)
Our southern progress through Prince Gustav Channel was hampered in the morning by fierce 70-knot winds and un-navigable ice. We scurried back into Herbert Sound and sought shelter in Croft Bay. Ian had an impromptu lecture about Roald Amundsen, Robert Scott, Nobu Shirase, and their 1911 race to the South Pole. He included the stories of the invincible Tom Crean, Victor Campbell's arduous winter in an ice cave, and Apsley Cherry-Garrad's 'worst journey in the world'. After lunch, we braved the winds and stormy gangway to land at St. Martha Cove on James Ross Island. Otto Nordenskjöld named the island in honour of James Clark Ross who came through here in Erebus and Terror in 1842. It is known as James Ross Island to distinguish it from the widely known Ross Island in McMurdo Sound, named for him as well by Robert Scott in 1901. The spray over the Zodiacs made for a wet landing indeed and more than one sodden passenger arrived in the relative calm of the cove. From there, wet jackets and cumbersome boots were shed for an extended hike over the island. Later, even more was shed as some brave souls took the plunge into the icy waters in nothing but their skivvies. A few people were lucky enough to see a Weddell seal lounging on the end of the beach as another rolled in the gentle surf. The gangway had settled down once more and the ride back to the ship was made in relative ease.
Brad mustered everyone into the Explorer lounge and announced plans for an early dinner followed by a landing at Devil Island. This was a real treat to come ashore and get a more leisurely look at the Adélie penguins we had first seen at Hope Bay. Named for the wife of French explorer Dumont d'Urville, the Adélie is the classic little tuxedo penguin easily distinguished by their white eye-ring and black beak. At seventy centimetres tall and 3.8-5.4 kilograms, the Adélie is the smallest of the pygocelis or brush-tailed penguins that include the chinstrap and gentoo penguins. They are possibly the most charming penguins to watch in terms of behaviour. They tend to enter the water en masse to avoid leopard seals. The safest place to be is in the middle of the pack and there is much jostling for position on shore. Adélie penguins are particularly adept at shooting straight out of the water to land on ice. When they do stumble however, they seem to have an "I meant to do that" air about them. The female lays two eggs but only experienced breeders in a good season are capable of raising two chicks and one is often marginalized. Adélie penguins can be found nesting on ice-free areas of the continental coast as far south as 77°33'.
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