Antarctica Tour: A Touch of the Great White South

By Jim Danzenbaker and Ann Nightingale

15 January 2012

Jim’s view: My hopes for icebergs today were realized when I arrived on the bridge and saw several huge bergs on the horizon. They were a welcome sight, as I had seen nothing but blue-gray salt water and whitecaps since leaving South Georgia. Behind the icebergs, the snowclad peaks of the South Orkneys were now in view. The previous day, expedition leader Ted Cheeseman consulted with the staff about altering our planned landing in the South Orkneys. We decided to forego this landing in favor of continuing south into the Weddell Sea to maximize our chances along the pack ice for whales and Emperor Penguins. This was a disappointment, especially for those eager to set foot on dry land.


Pintado Petrels have accompanied us ever since leaving Ushuaia, but now we take a second look at each one in hopes of spotting an Antarctic Petrel. (Photo by Jim Danzenbaker)

 Although the many swells were slowly decreasing, (not fast enough for many), it was still a bit uncomfortable. Icebergs and flocks of Chinstrap Penguins were becoming more numerous, a true touch of the great white south. Splashy plumaged Pintado Petrels and their close cousins, Southern Fulmars became more numerous. I often saw flocks of these flying circles around the Ortelius, alternately catching the updraft on the windward side and gliding down the leeward face of each swell. These quickly became a crowd favorite. Evening turned to night, and our whale count for the day ended at a somewhat paltry seven, a disappointment given yesterday’s success.  


Stunning bergs become a fixture on the horizon as we make our way south into the ice. (Photo by Jim Danzenbaker)

Ann’s view: Although I was feeling better today, the constant rocking of the ship kept me returning to the comfort of the horizontal position to “reboot” between activities. It was of no consolation whatever that Ted Cheeseman, the expedition leader, said that this had been the roughest crossing they had ever had. I made it to the bridge several times today, and saw my first Southern Fulmars, but no whale spouts. The mammal activity had dropped from hundreds of blows yesterday to a mere handful today, none while I was in a position to see them. 

The big news of the day is that we’re skipping the South Orkneys—two more days at sea before we reach the ice which, I’m told, will calm the waters. I’m counting on that! The number of Pintado Petrels has increased. They are beautiful birds to watch from above as they glide along the ship. We’re keeping an eye out for an Antarctic Petrel, which is rumored to sometimes hang out with its close relative, the Pintado. 

This evening, we had the second passenger slide show of the trip. Each of us may submit five photos for the show, which are then set to music and shown for about three second each. I must say that there are some very impressive photographers on board, but even the amateurs have taken some amazing photos. We’ll be the source of endless shows for our friends when we get home.


Fantastic photo of the iceberg here – interesting how much it still resembles a slice off the side of a glacier. I am really enjoying these journals – thank you for sharing them!


Petrels who might like to see some of the original Canon as it aarepped in the Strand Magazine can go to the Gutenberg website at , and from there go to the Titles index under S’. Run down the list to Strand , where you can find complete issues of the magazine for the first six months of 1893. These are steadily being added to, and hopefully one day we may have all the Canonical issues; until then, you can see some early tales from the Memoirs . Enjoy! as the waiters say.Peter Wood

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