Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bird Island

After two days’ bouncing through the Southern Ocean, we sat off Bird Island, BAS’s smallest base. As the sea was too rough to anchor, the Captain used the Dynamic Positioning System – a complex control system which uses GPS to control the ship’s thrusters, to keep us in one place regardless of conditions. The swell also prevented using the rope ladder, so we were loaded into the FRC on deck and lowered into the sea with a sharp bump.

The journey to Bird Island was a wet one, with spray soaking our Goretex survival suits as Dewi the chief engineer expertly piloted his craft through the waves. It was shocking to think that Shackleton and his men sailed for 16 days in a boat of the same size (The James Caird) after the wrecking of Endurance.

Moored up at the jetty, we were greeted by Bird Island staff and handed large sticks. The fur seals which covered the shore were breeding and fiercely defending their territory. Unlike the docile elephant seals of Signy, these were savage beasts needing a smart whack to keep them at bay. The gauntlet run, Tamsin and I set about replacing faulty parts on the Automatic Weather Station and checking the instruments set on a thirty foot tower, where we got marooned by a grumpy male until rescued by a colleague with handy matador skills.

Once our work was completed, we joined Fabrice, a biologist, on his daily check of nesting Macaroni Penguins and Wandering Albatross. The penguins were amusing and the albatross simply huge, with at least a three metre windspan. Sitting and watching them swoop over the cliff tops, our thoughts turned to Christmas for the first time as we joked about how many minutes a 10 kilogram bird would need in the oven.

Click here for more penguin and seal action! Posted by Picasa


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Great photos and good to see you are losing your camera shyness as the trip progresses.

But where's the Antarctic explorer beard?


9:10 am GMT  
Anonymous Skinny D said...

Those baby seals look nice and soft and furry - I'm figuring you've got yourself an 18 month supply of luxury thermal pants.

Keep up the blogging


12:45 pm GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A-Up David, its your cousin Sally with Pauline and Gwyn. We're at my house in Hertfordshire. Gywn's finished all the port and is rolling around the lounge.

Speak soon.

Sally Reeve (nee Griffiths)

4:32 pm GMT  

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