Today we explored the north of the Weddell Sea. Traveling between Joinville and Dundee Island, we arrived at our morning destination, Tay Head, where we could stretch our legs while visiting some penguin colonies, right before enjoying the calm ocean by kayak. Our bravest explorers had the chance to jump into the frigid waters of the Weddell Sea during our famous polar plunge right before lunch.
In the afternoon, we traveled to the Danger Islands, an archipelago formed by six relatively small islands. Three of them are dedicated to Darwin and his famous expedition on board HMS Beagle: Darwin, Beagle, and Earle. August Earle was an artist on board HMS Beagle.
This small and remote archipelago, rarely visited by any vessel, is home to one of the biggest Adélie penguin colonies on the planet—750,000 pairs breed here in this Adélie hot spot. The spectacle that we experienced on our Zodiacs around Beagle Island was mesmerizing, as rafts of thousands of penguins surrounded us. Leopard seals patrolled the colonies, and giant petrels, skuas, gulls, and sheathbills fed on the remains of the dead penguins. Leopard seals de-skin the penguins by holding the prey with their mouths and whipping it back and forth in the air, smashing it on the water until the skin comes off. The remains are highly appreciated by other inhabitants of the islands. It was nature at its wildest! Certainly the abundant and unique wildlife of this remote location of Antarctica was worth the extra mile!