Christmas Day at Cierva Cove and Hydrurga Rocks
  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 25 Dec 2021

Christmas Day at Cierva Cove and Hydrurga Rocks, 12/25/2021, National Geographic Explorer

  • Aboard the National Geographic Explorer
  • Antarctica

We awoke this morning to a white Christmas! Brash ice, icebergs and a glacial landscape surrounded the ship. Additionally, it was snowing! After breakfast, we headed out in our fleet of Zodiacs to explore the bay where we observed icebergs and a colony of chinstrap penguins.

In the afternoon, we visited Hydrurga Rocks, a small group of islets named after the leopard seal. We saw more chinstrap penguins, Antarctic shags (cormorants), kelp gulls and snowy (pale-faced) sheathbills. Half a dozen Weddell seals rested on the snowbanks.

One of the special features of Hydrurga Rocks is the “middens” of the kelp gull. Over time, likely centuries, kelp gulls harvested Antarctic limpets and deposited the shells on rocky outcrops near their nests. These shells have filled in cracks and crevices over the years, creating middens, or refuse heaps.

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