We wake up every morning wondering what unexpected magnificence the day has in store for us, and we go to bed each night unable to believe all that occurred in just one day! Today, we were greeted by a group of humpbacks before breakfast. Afterwards, the sun in Cierva Cove illuminated the crevassed glaciers and chaotic, crumbling blocks of ice as they crashed, making their way to the end of a slow-motion journey from the peninsula to the ocean. From our Zodiacs, we drank hot chocolate and peered up at giant icebergs, their faces and textures telling us the story of what they experienced since separating from the glaciers that birthed them. Below Primavera Base, we enjoyed leopard seals lazing on the ice, flaring their big reptilian nostrils while gentoo penguins porpoised nearby.
Although we often focus our attention on the charismatic seals, penguins, birds, and whales, some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Antarctica inspire awe without moving or breathing at all. This afternoon certainly proved that. The dark, volcanic, cliff-lined channels near Spert Island evoke a unique sense of grandeur on the peninsula. Struggling to capture it through our lenses, we all stared up in wonder, so distracted by geology that we almost missed the chinstrap penguins and fur seals nestled among the rocks. Antarctic terns, skuas, and kelp gulls soared majestically over deep turquoise water and perched on green moss and lichen-covered outcrops. Each day in Antarctica is different, and two days in the same place could never be identical. If we visited a few days later, some of our magnificent iceberg arches would no longer exist. The chinstraps we saw molting on Spert may have left and the fur seals may have headed off to feed elsewhere. We may be the only people who ever lay eyes upon the wonders we experience each day. Who knows what wonders tomorrow holds!