Our day started in the north part of the Antarctic peninsula, with some true Antarctic weather: snowflakes surrounded the ship and lent a mysterious atmosphere to our navigation. Soon we crossed Esperanza Base, an Argentinian research station that is inhabited year-round. Less than a month ago, Esperanza recorded the highest temperature record for Antarctica—18.3 °C, or 65 °F, which was only one degree lower than the temperature recorded in Kailua, Hawaii, that same day.
Our journey continued to Brown Bluff, a volcano nearly 2,300 feet high, which would be our second continental landing of the expedition. Dozens of leopard seals patrolled the area, and we had incredible encounters with them. One of our teams could even see them hunting a penguin. Female leopards can reach 1,000 pounds and are formidable hunters, propelling themselves underwater with both sets of flippers.
In the afternoon we sailed to Devil Island for a true adventure, taking the Zodiacs ashore and climbing to the mountain through the sporadic blizzards. We could only imagine the daring of the Nordenskjold Expedition during the Antarctic winter as we visited Cape Well-met, the place where the Expedition’s Captain Otto Nordenskjold reunited with his party after months of separation. More leopard seals visited us when we were out on our Zodiacs, and we could enjoy their presence again.
Our day finished with our crew band, a.k.a. the Spice Boys, the most traveled band in the world! Our naturalists Doug and Ella participated: Doug with his guitar and Ella at the microphone. Some of our naturalists are certainly very multitalented!