Yesterday we experienced the one day in a hundred when the weather in this part of the planet is perfect. Today we got to see more typical summer weather in Antarctica.
Early morning was clear and bright, then clouds and fog rolled in. Later there was rain and snow and biting winds. Landmasses played peekaboo in the fog, often disappearing as if a fluffy gray curtain had been lowered.
The weather seemed appropriate given the role Elephant Island (named for elephant seals) played in the Shackleton story. His Endurance Expedition crew wintered over here after the ship became iced in the Weddell Sea. They truly were heroic and that they survived is nothing short of a miracle.
It is a huge landmass, that looks foreboding, especially in the fog and snow. Remember this is the height of summer here.
Apart from the historical significance, this is a feeding area for sea and avian life. I sat for hours in a protected spot and saw several dozens of whales — mostly fin whales, second in size only to blue whales. Only got a couple of semi-okay photos, but the experience of seeing one whale after another blow water and briefly emerge so I could see a fin or their body was extraordinary.
There were also hundreds, if not thousands, of birds that passed close by the ship– Antarctic Shags, Albatross, and Petrels. Penguins swam along side us. Terrible photos, but again the images and experience are engraved in my memory.
We’re now leaving Antarctica and heading back through the Drake Passage to the Falkland Islands. I’m glad I was able to have a taste of all sorts of weather and see the landscapes in both bright sunshine and shrouded in fog. I can now honestly say I’ve been to the end of the world.