From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
Jan 5, 2013 - National Geographic Explorer
Port Lockroy / Gerlache Strait
Terra firma takes on a different meaning when one is preparing to bid it farewell for two days. Goudier Island and Jougla Point were our last two points of contact with solid ground, penguins and civilization before heading north into open water, bound for Ushuaia. Port Lockroy (which sits on Goudier Island) was the morning’s destination and provided those items of interest listed above. Established as a means for the British to monitor German activity in the Southern Ocean during WWII, Port Lockroy now holds the multi-faceted title of former research/monitoring station, Antarctic Heritage Trust museum, post office and gift shop. Staffed by four hardy Brits during the austral summer and renovated in the 1980s by our very own Rick Atkinson, the station offers a look into the world of those willing to spend months of their life in a small hut, on a tiny island, surrounded by hundreds of penguins on the tip of the world’s most inhospitable continent in the name of national security, science, or tourism (depending on the decade).
Our last contact with solid ground was either at the station or at a nearby island packed with gentoo penguins and Antarctic blue-eyed shags. Jougla Point has no structure on it but does harbor the remains of whales caught and butchered on its beaches decades ago. Between these reminders of the whaling era and the peep of newborn blue-eyed shags, Jougla left those whose feet were in contact with it last with an enduring memory of a continent so rich in life that humans were willing to risk it all to get here.
By traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer there is no question the risks have diminished yet we are ourselves an offshoot of that breed who is willing to endure rough weather and seas to get to a place as rich in life as this. Our exit through Croker Passage provided one last reminder of the biodiversity this place offers as a cow and calf humpback pair seemingly bid us farewell with flukes and flippers as we left Antarctica in our wake.