Feb. 18 – Half Moon Island & Heading Home

My last post about Antarctica is coming almost exactly a year after my trip. It seems like yesterday that I was shopping for winter clothing, dealing with the angst of leaving my students behind, and practically vibrating inside with excitement about crossing the “hardest” continent off my to bucket list. Looking back, my wife’s kind and lavish 50th birthday present changed me in ways I did not expect. I am so grateful for the experience.

I am grateful to:

Feb. 16 – Grass and Oil Spills in Antarctica – Torgersen Island & More

Besides the Polar Plunge, February 16th was a very eventful day. There was so much to see near Torgersen Island, just off shore from the much larger Anvers Island.

A few highlights:

  • Adélie Penguins! (Definitely my favorite penguin species!) Sadly, we learned that, while Gentoo penguin populations are on the rise, Adélie and Chinstrap populations seem to be on the decline. Research is being done to try and determine the cause; with special care being made to evaluate the effects of eco-tourism.
  • We got to see the Palmer Station, a United States research facility, in the distance. I’m pretty sure the resupply vessel RV Laurence M. Gould was visiting the station; very impressive. If you are planning to visit the peninsula,

Feb. 16 – Taking the Plunge near Torgersen Island

February 16th will always be one of the most memorable days of my trip to Antarctica. After all, how often do you get to go for a swim in Antarctica?! And by a swim, I mean really mean a “ok-jump-in-what-have-I-done-gasp-surface-surface-climb-out-hot-tub-YAY!”

In all seriousness, the event was a hoot. Much frivolity had by all. A few highlights and observations:

  • About a third of the passengers participated. Pretty impressive given the demographics of the passengers.
  • There is obviously some risk involved and but the crew made sure we were as safe as possible. For example, each swimmer is attached to a harness and rope. If you seize up, they are going to pull you out.  Or maybe it is a traditional Orca whaling technique?