En Route to the South Shetlands

Jan 18, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

Today the sea calmed, allowing passengers to mingle and walk about the ship. We took the opportunity this morning to decontaminate our outerwear before leaving the ship, which helps to prevent inadvertent introduction of plant species not native to the Antarctic. This included vacuuming to remove seeds from Velcro and pockets, followed by dipping poles and boots in a disinfectant to kill any seeds or diseases picked up from elsewhere.

The first icebergs were spotted in the afternoon, and then by around 2:00 p.m., land! Our destination was Barrientos – an island found on the west side of the English Strait. Views are scenic from Barrientos, which is also home to a gentoo penguin colony. The weather wasn’t ideal, but the spot we chose was adequately sheltered, allowing us to get ashore dry; a definite bonus in an area known for formidable amounts of wind and precipitation year-round.

While everyone was ashore taking in the Antarctic atmosphere and the company of gentoo penguins, the dive team went for an exploratory dive off a nearby island.

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About the Author

Peter Webster

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born in Scotland, Peter became fascinated with nature and wildlife from a very young age. This early interest led to him earning a degree in conservation biology followed shortly after by an M.Sc in marine and fisheries ecology. He is currently studying for another M.Sc in digital mapping. After working as a commercial diver for several years Peter was offered the position of Field Diving Officer with the British Antarctic Survey in 2012. He then spent the next 16 months in the Antarctic, stationed at Rothera Research Station, on the peninsula where he managed the dive operations and a team of scientific divers working on a wide range of research on climate change, ocean acidification, and increased seabed disturbance by icebergs. As well as diving Peter also spent several months in the Antarctic deep field working in aircraft operations, depot laying, and meteorological work whilst living in tents in conditions below -30oC. 

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