A truly remarkable way to awake at 6:00 AM on your first day in Antarctic waters is with a PA announcement saying, “We have killer whales off the bow, please bundle up and join us outside!” The day only proceeded to get better from there!
After breakfast, we arrived at Brown Bluff, a great spot for landing on the continent! Brown Bluff is home to 20,000 nesting Adelie penguin pairs and offered us a chance to stretch our legs. Walking uphill onto the edge of a glacier is possible at this site because the edge that extends towards where we landed is no longer moving, creating a safe and unique experience.
The afternoon we took Zodiac rides at D’Urville Monument, an ice-free area located on Joinville Island. There are approximately 10,000 breeding pairs of Adelie penguins there and roughly 670 gentoo pairs here. We had a wonderful time watching the penguins come to and from shore and got up close looks at them cleaning their feathers in the waters around our boats. It was a delight to observe their daily habits.
The day was not yet over for us when we returned to the ship. We postponed recap when we came upon humpback whales quite active near our ship, fluking and even the occasional breach! What an exceptional first day in Antarctica.