Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

The tidewater glacier flowing into the fjord at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as viewed from the water (from a Zodiac)

The tidewater glacier flowing into the fjord at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as viewed from the water (from a Zodiac)

 

From our anchorage spot in Krossfjorden, we sailed mid-day to Juli Bukta in Lilliehöökfjorden on Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, where we anchored in order to launch Zodiacs for cruises of the fjord and close up viewing of the tidewater glacier flowing into the fjord.

 

One part of the uphill glacier, with lateral moraine, flowing into the fjord, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

One part of the uphill glacier, with lateral moraine, flowing into the fjord, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

The front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Blue ice on the front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Blue ice on the front edge of the tidewater glacier at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

A bird colony on an iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

A bird colony on an iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

The “king” of the iceberg at, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The “king” of the iceberg at, Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Ignoring the “king” on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Ignoring the “king” on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Regal splendor on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Regal splendor on the iceberg at Juli Bukta, Lilliehöökfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

We took a Zodiac from the ship to the Signehamna landing on the shore of Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

We took a Zodiac from the ship to the Signehamna landing on the shore of Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Sailing north on the western side of Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, our next stop was at the Signehamna landing site on Krossfjorden.  With an Arctic historian who was part of our expedition team, we hiked about a mile from our Zodiac boat landing site to a small lake that was not visible from the fjord/landing site.  Nearby we found the remains of the secret, hidden “Knospe” German World War II weather station. [See further information/history, below.]  After lunch our ship sailed by the tidewater glacier at the end of the fjord and we were able to take some scenic photographs.

 

After hiking about a mile (1.6 km) from the landing site we came across this small lake and an important World War II site, nearby, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

After hiking about a mile (1.6 km) from the landing site we came across this small lake and an important World War II site, nearby, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

“Germany’s occupation of Norway in 1940 did not have any consequences for Svalbard and its settlement for a little while.  This changed in June 1941, when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, as the Barents Sea now got a new strategical significance as gateway for important goods from the western allies for the Red Army.  In August 1941, 1,955 Russians and 765 Norwegians were evacuated to the UK and the settlements on Spitsbergen largely destroyed to make sure the Germans would not benefit from them.  This was quickly realised in Germany, and the opportunity was used to establish war weather stations. Weather data from the arctic were vital both for central Europe and for attacking the convoys to Murmansk.  The importance of those convoys for the war in eastern Europe made both the Germans and the Allies put great effort into attacking and, respectively, protecting them.  For Germany, this meant to establish a number of weather stations in the arctic, which the Allies of course tried to prevent.  Competition between the different branches within the German military led to the somewhat strange fact that there were often more than one station wintering in Svalbard, whereas one might have done from a meteorological point of view.  In 1941-42, the station ‘Bansö’ wintered in Adventdalen near Longyearbyen and ‘Knospe’ in Signehamna in the Krossfjord.

“In 1942, the Norwegians tried to get control over Svalbard again.  An attempt was made together with the British with two small ships, the Isbjørn and the Selis.  Four German airfcraft attacked the two ships in the night to 14th May in the Grønfjord; Isbjørn was sunk and Selis caught fire and 14 people were killed.  The surviving force established a garrison with about 80 soldiers in Barentsburg, which had been largely destroyed in the previous summer.  The German weather station Knospe in the Krossfjord was discovered, and a German soldier was shot there.  A German submarine, which came to pick the crew of the weather station up, attacked the Norwegian camp in the Krossfjord. This attack also cost the life of one Norwegian.  Later that year, the Germans again established a weather station in the Krossfjord on the same site (station ‘Nussbaum’).

“…the war for the weather continued. The Germans kept establishing secret weather stations in Svalbard as well as northeast Greenland and Franz Josef Land.  Only in 1944-45, with an increasingly difficult situation in Europe, the Germans ran no less than four staffed weather stations in Svalbard, in addition to other, similar ones elsewhere in the north Atlantic. There is mostly not too much to be seen anymore at the weather stations [sites].  Time and the harsh weather, but mostly souvenir collectors, have taken most of it away, but a few remains can still be seen.” —  www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/history/the-second-world-war.html

 

The remains of a German World War II remote semi-automated weather station that was invisible from the Signehamna landing site on Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The remains of the German World War II remote semi-automated weather station – “Knospe” — that was invisible from the Signehamna landing site on Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

On our hike at the “Knospe” German World War II weather station, Seb, an historian who was an expedition guide sailing around Svalbard with us, told us some stories about the Norwegian – German fighting in Krossfjorden during World War II, related to the weather station.  In order to resupply the lead-acid batteries that operated the weather observation equipment and transmitters at the station, every couple of weeks the Germans sailed a submarine into the bay.  Sailors would haul up new batteries and inspect the station to ensure that all was working correctly.  The Norwegians were successful in capturing one of the submarines and its highly secret and much sought after communications equipment – a fully functional Enigma cipher (code machine) and the accompanying top secret code book.  These were forwarded to the Allied code breaking team in Bletchley Park in England where they played a critical role in enabling the Allies to start breaking the codes in secret German military communications. [Bletchley Park was the central site for British (and subsequently, Allied) codebreakers during World War II, located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England; at its peak, some 10,000 personnel (mostly women mathematicians, physicists, etc.) worked at Bletchley and its outstations.]

While the control of the weather stations in Spitsbergen went back and forth between the Germans (who had established them secretly) and the Norwegians, by 1944 control of the stations was less important to the Allies, because with their code breaking capability, the Allies also used the German military’s weather data to assist in Allied military planning.  The most critical use of the Spitsbergen weather data was in the planning for D-Day.  General Eisenhower argued strongly against the planners who read the weather forecasts and proposed delaying the Allied invasion of Europe (“Operation Overlord”) because of approaching storms.  Eisenhower finally gave in and the amphibious landing and invasion by 160,000 Allied troops along a 50-mile stretch of beaches was rescheduled to June 6, 1944, which resulted in a successful invasion (nevertheless, as anticipated, one costly in terms of casualties and deaths of Allied soldiers).  Standing there at the weather station suddenly gave whole new meaning to the stories in books and movies about Bletchley Park and Alan Turing and the D-Day invasion.

 

Downhill from the weather station was this small pond with beautiful hues in the water, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Downhill from the weather station was this small pond with beautiful hues in the water, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Viewed from our ship at anchor in Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, the tidewater glacier can be seen to be flowing downhill into the fjord (panorama)

Viewed from our ship at anchor in Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, the tidewater glacier can be seen to be flowing downhill into the fjord (panorama)

 

 

The glacier as seen later in the morning as we sailed by before exiting Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The glacier, as seen later in the morning as we sailed by before exiting Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

A close-up of the tidewater glacier ice, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

A close-up of the tidewater glacier ice, Signehamna, Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Details of the front edge of the tidewater glacier flowing into Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Details of the front edge of the tidewater glacier flowing into Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

 

Our last glimpse of the tidewater glacier in Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as we turned around to sail out of the fjord

Our last glimpse of the tidewater glacier in Krossfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, as our ship turned around to sail out of the fjord

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Knik Glacier by Air, Anchorage, Alaska USA

When we arrived at Rust_s Fying Service (next to the International Airport that has one of Fed Ex_s largest cargo facilities in the world) we found out that it was too overcast at Mo

When we arrived at Rust’s Fying Service (next to the International Airport that has one of Fed Ex’s largest cargo facilities in the world) we found out that it was too overcast at Mount Denali (formerly Mt KcKinley) to fly up there, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

Six of us had planned on flying from Anchorage 100 miles (160 kilometers) by float plane to Mount Denali (formerly, Mt McKinley), the tallest mountain at 20,310 feet (6190 meters) in the United States (Alaska, Hawaii and the “Continental” – or “lower 48” – states), but, despite it being a rare sunny in Anchorage, the mountain was socked in and unapproachable by air that morning.  We discussed options with our outstanding floatplane pilot, Mark A. Stadsklev (50,000 flights in 40 years and an Alaska wildlife and landscape book published from his photography), and he suggested we do a shorter, but very scenic, trip up to the Knik Glacier, lake George and back down the Knik River.  We had a great morning with some memorable sights, including landing on Lake George (a USA National Natural Landmark), and very good photographs (below).  Note that there are no roads anywhere in the region, so the only two options are a really long and dangerous ATV (all terrain vehicle) drive or a flight over the surrounding mountains to reach the glacier (and float planes can land on Lake George, as we did).

“Knik Glacier is located on the northern edge of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains…  [It] is one of central Alaska’s greatest rivers of ice.  Often referred to as Alaska’s ‘sunny glacier’, a unique microclimate or ‘rain shadow’ has created a truly diverse ecosystem.  A northern desert surrounded by snow covered peaks, hanging glaciers, and waterfalls.” – www.knikglacier.com

 

Instead, out floatplane pilot, Mark A. Stadsklev, suggested that we fly to Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Instead, our floatplane pilot, Mark A. Stadsklev, suggested that we fly to Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

A glimpse of the largest floatplane operations center in the United States, Anchorage, Alaska USA

A glimpse of the largest floatplane operations center in the United States, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

“The Knik Glacier is located 50 miles [80 kilometers] north of Anchorage.  Situated on the northern edge of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, Knik Glacier is one of the biggest glaciers  in south central Alaska.  At 28 miles long [45 kilometers] and over 5 miles [8 kilometers] across, Knik Glacier is actually a small remnant of a past ice age.  During the Pleistocene ice age 600,000 years ago the Chugach Mountains were covered in ice over 1/2 mile thick [805 meters].  Knik Glacier connected to a massive ice field that extended hundreds of miles into the ocean.

 

There are no roads up here, so the only way to reach Lake George after flying over the Knik Glacier is by floatplane, Anchorage, Alaska USA; additionally, there are some boat operators w

There are no roads up here, so the only way to reach Lake George after flying over the Knik Glacier is by floatplane, Anchorage, Alaska USA; additionally, there are some boat operators with tours up the Knik River to the lake and the tidewater edge of the glacier where it enters the lake

 

The mountain area around the Knik Glacier is filled with snow and small, mountaintop glaciers, Anchorage, Alaska USA

The mountain area around the Knik Glacier is filled with snow and small, mountaintop glaciers, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

More mountains and additional glaciers on the way to Lake George; Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

More mountains and additional glaciers on the way to Lake George; Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska US

 

The middle snow field looks very inviting for heli-skiing (helicopter); Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska US

The middle snow field looks very inviting for heli-skiing (helicopter); Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska US

 

“Knik Glacier is a master sculptor carving valleys and shaping rock into landscapes of exquisite natural beauty.  Surrounded by 10,000 foot [3,048 meters] snow-covered peaks, hanging glaciers, and waterfalls, the Knik Glacier has carved out one of Alaska’s most spectacular natural amphitheaters.  Knik Glacier is the centerpiece of the 17,000 acre [6,880 hectares] Lake George National Natural Landmark.  The National Natural Landmark Program recognizes over 500 sites in the United States.  Established in 1962, the program aims to encourage voluntary preservation of sites that illustrate the geological and ecological history of the United States and to strengthen the public’s appreciation of America’s natural heritage.  In order to be selected a site must of national significance and the best example of a regions biotic or geologic features. — www.knikglacier.com

 

Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

One tour operator’s web site notes: “if you can’t visit, you can see the glacier in films; it’s been the set for several Hollywood movies, like “Star Trek V” and “Avalanche; in 1991 Paramount PIctures used Knik Glacier to film a portion of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Knik Glacier was the setting for a scene in which Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy are rescued from the Klingon ice planet prison Rurta Penthe.”

 

This spectacular view shows the Knik Glacier flowing down around the mountains with black moraine stripes visible, into Lake George; Anchorage, Alaska USA

This spectacular view shows the Knik Glacier flowing down around the mountains with black moraine stripes visible, into Lake George; Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

“The Knik Glacier was selected because of a rare geologic phenomenon that occurs here called a “jokulhlaup” (an ice dammed lake).  Jokulhlaups occurred here annually until 1967.  In winter the Knik Glaciers would advance and press its mass of ice, up to 400 feet [122 meters] thick, against the side of Mt. Palmer and block the flow of water from Lake George.  In spring the Lake George Valley behind Knik Glacier would begin to fill with water.  The 5 mile [8 kilometers] lake would swell to over 20 miles [32 kilometers] and water levels would raise 180 feet [xx meters].  The Water levels would eventually rise over the ice dams and the annual breakout would occur.  Millions of gallons of angry surging water would roar down the valley loaded with silt, debris and glacial ice.  This natural wonder occurred annually until 1966 and played a significant role in the lives of Native Americans and early pioneers.  The town of Matanuska had to be relocated due to the annual flooding. Just before 1900 three Indian villages along the Knik River were destroyed by a great flood.  Transportation routes between Anchorage and Palmer would be blocked for a week or two every year.  Early pioneers held a lottery annually to predict the exact time and day the breakout would occur.  Since 1967 a decrease in glacial advance has prevented the formation of Lake George, but a renewal of these awesome events could occur at any time.

 

The tidewater edge of Knik Glacier in Lake George, Anchorage, Alaska USA

The tidewater edge of Knik Glacier in Lake George, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

“The tremendous events caused by the advance of the Knik Glacier have been replaced by tremendous events of a receding Knik Glacier.  Knik Glacier is on the move! In 1997 the Knik glacier woke from a long slumber.  In response to a global warming trend the Knik Glacier, like many Alaskan Glaciers, is getting smaller.  A new lake over 3 miles [5 kilometers]long and over 400 feet [122 meters] deep has been exposed at the glaciers face and this lake is getting bigger every year.” – www.knikglacier.com

 

Part of the tidewater edge of Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA; note that along the edge there are 400-foot (120 meter) ice walls that rise out of Lake George that is filled with iceb

Part of the tidewater edge of Knik Glacier, Anchorage, Alaska USA; note that along the edge there are 400-foot (120 meter) ice walls that rise out of Lake George that is filled with icebergs that are floating, turning, and breaking apart

 

From the Knik Glacier and Lake George we flew down the 25-mile (40 km) long Knik River which empties into the Knok Arm section of Cook Inlet by Anchorage, Alaska USA

From the Knik Glacier and Lake George we flew down the 25-mile (40 km) long Knik River which empties into the Knik Arm section of Cook Inlet by Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

Part of the Knik River delta, Anchorage, Alaska USA

Part of the Knik River delta, Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

The mountains adjacent to the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

The mountains adjacent to the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

The flatlands along the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

The flatlands along the Knik River as we returned to Anchorage, Alaska USA

 

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Antarctica Treaty Historic Site No. 61, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Welcome to Antarctica Treaty Historic Site No. 61, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Welcome to Antarctica Treaty Historic Site No. 61, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Port Lockroy, off the Neumayer Channel in Antarctica on Goudier Island and Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago, was used as an occasional anchorage by whalers a hundred years ago. It was established in 1944 as Base A by the British as part of a secret wartime initiative to monitor German shipping movements.  That expedition was code-named Operation Tabarin, after a well-known Paris nightclub, because team members would be staying there during the darkness of the Antarctic winter.  After World War II, the station continued to operate in a civilian capacity until 1964, when it ceased operations.  This historic base was recently restored privately by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust and is now open to visitors as a museum.  It is an extremely popular site, as more than half of the 40,000 annual visitors to Antarctica stop at Port Lockroy to visit the museum and Penguin Post Office. For more information about the Antarctic Heritage Trust, visit: www.ukaht.org

Old mooring chains on a rock at the landing site for British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Old mooring chains on a rock at the landing site for British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

The restored main building of British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

The restored main building of British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

The history of Port Lockroy was described in signage at the museum by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust: “The station is of importance as the earliest example of a British scientific station in the Antarctic Peninsula region. It was established as Base A in February 1944 during Operation Tabarin, a British World War II expedition, and remained operation until January 1962.

“Initially, scientific research carried out at the station was topographic survey, geology, meteorology and botany.  From 1950 the station played an important role in ionospheric research and was a key monitoring site during the International Geophysical Year of 1957. The normal occupancy of the station was 4 to 9 people.

Base Kitchen, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Base Kitchen, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

“The original station hut, ‘Bransfield House’, still survives as the core of the main building and is the oldest British structure remaining on the Antarctic Peninsula.  The main base building was enlarged in 1952 and 1953.  In 1956 a separate boathouse was constructed and in 1958 the generator building was added to the main base. Other original structures included a Nissen hut [– a prefabricated steel structure, made from a half-cylindrical skin of corrugated steel, known in the U.S. as a Quonset hut –] (used as a store), built in 1944, which later collapsed during the 1990s. It was reconstructed in 2010 on the original foundations to act as accommodation for the seasonal staff.

Penguin Post Office -- the only working post office in Antarctica, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Penguin Post Office — the only working post office in Antarctica, British Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

“Base A, Port Lockroy, was designated HSM No. 61 in 1995 and is conserved and managed by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust on behalf of the UK.  Repair and conservation work of Port Lockroy was undertaken in early 1996 and maintenance is ongoing.  At that time an annual environmental monitoring programme was established to assess potential visitor disturbance to the rookery of Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) on Goudier Island.  Results show that there is no discernable impact on penguin breeding success, which is more closely linked to local environmental conditions, such as skua predation, snow cover or the availability of krill.”

The "Beastie", used for ionospheric observations (upper atmosphere research) at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

The “Beastie”, used for ionospheric observations (upper atmosphere research) at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Pictured above is a 1959 Mk II Union Radio Automatic Ionoscope, better known as a “Beastie” due to its size and the complexity of its components.  It is identical to the one used at Port Lockroy between 1953 and 1961.  A sign of explanation about the “Beastie” and Antarctic research today noted:  “Long-term data from the ‘Beastie’ at Port Lockroy have recently been used by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to demonstrate that the ionosphere over Port Lockroy has been falling by more than a quarter of a mile per annum since measurements began here.  The cause is increased levels of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, which is responsible for global warming.”

 

Wooden snow shoes (Norwegian-style) and skis, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Wooden snow shoes (Norwegian-style) and skis, circa 1940s, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Nesting Gentoo Penguins in front of the contemporary Quonset hut living quarters, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Nesting Gentoo Penguins in front of the contemporary Quonset hut living quarters, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguins, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguins, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

A glacier flowing into the sea in the channel across from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

A glacier flowing into the sea in the channel across from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Sailboat from Ushuaia with a French crew, anchored with the Gentoo Penguins at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Sailboat from Ushuaia, Argentina, with a French crew, anchored with the Gentoo Penguins at Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Giant icebergs with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Giant icebergs with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Mountains and glaciers with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Mountains and glaciers with evening light as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Our last view of glaciers and mountains on the Antarctic coast, in evening light, as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Our last view of glaciers and mountains on the Antarctic Peninsula coast, in evening light, as we sailed towards Drake Passage and Argentina from Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

United States Antarctic Program (USAP) Palmer Station, Arthur Harbour, Anvers Island, Antactica

Some of the buildings of the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station, with the directional sign to other research stations, in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

Some of the buildings of the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station, with the directional sign to other research stations, in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

The morning after we sailed by Palmer Station to anchor overnight in the Neumayer Channel, we sailed to Arthur Harbour where we anchored near the USAP Palmer Station, located on Anvers Island, Antarctica.  The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) maintains three year-round stations in the Antarctic.  The largest is on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound (reached by ship from Australia).   The second station is at the Geographic South Pole, with Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula (reached by ship from Argentina) being the third.

We were very fortunate to be one of the few ships visiting the area that was allowed to send Zodiacs ashore for us to get a guided tour of the research station.

The directional sign to other research stations at the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

The directional sign to other research stations at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

We also had the opportunity to get a passport stamp from Palmer Station, a rarity, as Antarctica is a continent under joint international management, but not a country/countries. In fact, Antarctica is the only continent on earth that does not have a country on it.

 

Your intrepid exploer and blogger in front of a giant oil storage tank at the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

Your intrepid explorer and blogger in front of a giant oil storage tank at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

 

For more information about Palmer Station, visit: 

www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/palwebcam.cfm

 

 

The view of the icebergs from the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

The view of the icebergs from the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

 

Panoramic view from Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Anvers Island, Antarctica

Panoramic view from Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Anvers Island, Antarctica

 

 

One of our ship's Zodiacs departing from the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

One of our ship’s Zodiacs departing from the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

 

A Zodiacs exploring the channel near the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

A Zodiac exploring the channel near the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

 

Mountains, glaciers, snow, ice and icebergs in the channel near the U.S. Antarctic Program's Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

Mountains, glaciers, snow, ice and icebergs in the channel near the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Avers Island, Antarctica

 

Ice forms near Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Anvers Island, Antarctica

Ice forms near Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Anvers Island, Antarctica

 

Gentoo Penguin pas de deux on the ice near Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Anvers Island, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguin pas de deux on the ice near Palmer Station in Arthur Harbour on Anvers Island, Antarctica

 

Whales and penguins in the Dallmann Fjords off Anvers Island, Antarctica

A triangle-shaped Iceberg in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

A triangle-shaped Iceberg in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Anvers Island or Antwerp Island or Antwerpen Island or Isla Amberes is a high, mountainous island 61 km long, the largest in the Palmer Archipelago of Antarctica – 38 miles (61 km) long.   It was discovered by John Biscoe in 1832 and named in 1898 by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition under Andrian de Gerlache after the province of Antwerp in Belgium.

The mountainous coast with glaciers of the Dallmann Fjords near Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

The mountainous coast with glaciers of the Dallmann Fjords near Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Captain Dallmann was the captain of a sealing ship who sailed through this area of Antarctica prior to 1875 when his discoveries were used in A. Petermann’s South Polar Chart.

 

Humpback whale in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Humpback whale in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

 

“The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh about 36,000 kg (79,000 lb).  The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers.  Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time.  Its purpose is not clear, though it may have a role in mating.” — Wikipedia

 

Humpback whale profile in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Humpback whale profile in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

 

“Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) each year.  Humpbacks feed only in summer, in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter when they fast and live off their fat reserves.  Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish.  Humpbacks have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net technique.  Like other large whales, the humpback was a target for the whaling industry.  Once hunted to the brink of extinction, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium.  While stocks have partially recovered, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution continue to impact the population of 80,000.” — Wikipedia

Icebergs in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Icebergs in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Iceberg with Gentoo Penguins in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Iceberg with Gentoo Penguins in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Three Gentoo Penguins on iceberg in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

Three Gentoo Penguins on iceberg in Dallmann Fjords off Northern Anvers Island, Antarctica

 

Penola Strait and Booth Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Mountains and icebergs in the Penola Strait (just south of the Lemaire Channel, visited earlier), Antarctica

Mountains and icebergs in the Penola Strait (just south of the Lemaire Channel, visited earlier), Antarctica

The “Penola Strait (65°10′S 64°7′WCoordinates: 65°10′S 64°7′W) is a strait 11 nautical miles (20 km) long and averaging 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) wide, separating the Argentine Islands, Petermann Island and Hovgaard Island from the west coast of Graham Land. Traversed by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition under Gerlache on February 12, 1898.  Named by the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE), 1934–37, under Rymill, for the expedition ship Penola.” — Wikipedia

Iceberg arch in the Penola Strait (just south of the Lemaire Channel), Antarctica

Iceberg arch in the Penola Strait (just south of the Lemaire Channel), Antarctica

iceberg icicles in the Penola Strait (just south of the Lemaire Channel), Antarctica

Iceberg icicles in the Penola Strait (just south of the Lemaire Channel), Antarctica

 

“If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart.  Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare.  And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be.  May we never tame it.” ― Andrew Denton

 

Iceberg spear off Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

Iceberg spear off Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

 

“Booth Island (or Wandel Island) is a rugged, Y-shaped island, 8 kilometres (5 mi) long and rising to 980 m (3,215 ft) off the northwest coast of Kiev Peninsula in Graham Land, Antarctica in the northeastern part of the Wilhelm Archipelago. Booth Island is located at 65°4′48″S 64°0′0″W. Discovered and named by a German expedition under Eduard Dallmann 1873–74, probably for Oskar Booth or Stanley Booth, or both, members of the Hamburg Geographical Society at that time. The narrow passage between the island and the mainland is the scenic Lemaire Channel.” – Wikipedia

[See our previous post on the Lemaire Channel for photographs of both the channel and a “portrait” of Booth Island.]

“The highest point of the island is 980-metre (3,215 ft) Wandel Peak. Damien Gildea called it “one of the most challenging unclimbed objectives on the Antarctic Peninsula”. On 15 February 2006 the peak was reached by a group of Spanish alpinists, who still avoided the last 10–15 metres (32.8–49.2 ft) of the mushroomlike top.” — Wikipedia

A rare combination of all three species of "brushtail penguins nest together -- Adélie, Gentoo and Chinstrap -- on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

A rare combination of all three species of “brushtail” penguins nest together — Adélie, Gentoo and Chinstrap — on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

Nesting Adélie Penguins on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

Nesting Adélie Penguins on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

“The Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence. They are among the most southerly distributed of all seabirds, along with the Emperor Penguin, the south polar skua, the Wilson’s storm petrel, the snow petrel, and the Antarctic petrel. They are named after Adélie Land, in turn named for the wife of French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville who discovered these penguins in 1840.” — Wikipedia

A mother Adélie Penguin with -- look carefully - two very young gray baby chicks on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

A mother Adélie Penguin with — look carefully – two very young gray baby chicks on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

“Based on a 2014 analysis of fresh guano-discolored coastal areas, there are3.79 million breeding pairs of Adélie Penguins in 251 breeding colonies, a 53 percent increase over a census completed 20 years earlier. The colonies are distributed around the coastline of the Antarctic land and ocean. Colonies have declined on the Antarctic Peninsula…” — Wikipedia

A proud papa Adélie Penguin on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

A proud papa Adélie Penguin on Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

 

Our ship as seen from Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

Our ship as seen from Booth Island in the Penola Strait, Antarctica

 

 

Lemaire Channel, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Entering the Lemaire Channel (an average of one mile (1.6 km) in width), Antarctica

Entering the Lemaire Channel (an average of one mile (1.6 km) in width), Antarctica

“The Lemaire Channel is a strait off Antarctica, between Kiev Peninsula in the mainland’s Graham Land and Booth Island.  Nicknamed “Kodak Gap” by some, it is one of the top tourist destinations in Antarctica; steep cliffs hem in the iceberg-filled passage, which is 7 miles (11 km) long and just 5,250 feet (1,600 meters) wide at its narrowest point.” — Wikipedia

Mountain viewed from the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Mountain viewed from the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

“It was first seen by the German expedition of 1873-74, but not traversed until December 1898, when the Belgica of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition passed through.  Expedition leader Adrien de Gerlache named it for Charles Lemaire (1863-1925), a Belgian explorer of the Congo.” — Wikipedia

Glacier on the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Glacier on the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

“The channel has since become a standard part of the itinerary for cruising in Antarctica; not only is it scenic, but the protected waters are usually as still as a lake, a rare occurrence in the storm-wracked southern seas, and the north-south traverse delivers vessels close to Petermann Island for landings.  The principal difficulty is that icebergs may fill the channel, especially in early season, obliging a ship to backtrack and go around the outside of Booth Island to reach Petermann.” — Wikipedia

Brown and white reflections on the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Brown and white reflections on the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Iceberg and reflections in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Iceberg and reflections in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Looking aft on our ship's port side as we transit the narrowest section of the Lemaire Channel, adjacent to Booth Island, Antarctica

Looking aft on our ship’s port side as we transit the narrowest section of the Lemaire Channel, adjacent to Booth Island, Antarctica

The Lemaire Channel (on the right side) passes closely by Booth Island with its sheer mountains, Antarctica

The Lemaire Channel (on the right side) passes closely by Booth Island with its sheer mountains, Antarctica

 

After we passed through the channel and with Booth Island behind us, we were completely surprised to see something moving on an iceberg ahead of the ship, on the port side.  Upon closer inspection, we saw a lot of red and black coloring on top of the iceberg.  Suddenly, realizing that it was 25 December, we realized that we had visitors from the North Pole on an iceberg in the Lemaire Channel.

VIsitors from the North Pole on an iceberg in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica, on Christmas morning

Visitors from the North Pole on an iceberg in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica, on Christmas morning

The three of them (Santa Claus and his two helpers) waved furiously at everyone on the ship (particularly the crew!), signalling that they wished to come aboard.  We lowered a Zodiac which went out and picked them up and brought them to the ship.  In the lobby, after some hot libations, Santa Claus and his helpers gave presents to each and every one of the children (17 and under) on board for our Antarctic Expedition.

It's Santa Claius and two elves on an iceberg in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

It’s Santa Claus and two helpers on an iceberg in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

For everyone aboard, this was an unforgettable holiday.  We were blessed with excellent weather (34 degrees F or 1 degree C and sunny and no winds).  Our small community of world travelers agreed that we shared a wonderful moment together in the land of snow, icebergs, glaciers, mountains, and the Antarctic Ocean.

 

Neko Harbor, Andvord Bay, Antarctica

Andvord Bay iceberg, Antarctica

Andvord Bay iceberg, Antarctica

Our first Zodiac rides in Antarctica (after sailing south from Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands through the Errera channel) were in Andvord Bay, a bay 9 nautical miles (17 km) long and 3 nautical miles (6 km) wide, which lies along the west coast of Graham Land on the Antarctic Peninsula (the tip of Antarctica closest to Argentina).  It was discovered by the Belgian Antarctica Expedition, 1897–99, under Adrien de Gerlache, and named by him for Rolf Andvord, Belgian counsul at Christiana (Oslo) at that time.

Andvord Bay glacier face, Antarctica

Andvord Bay glacier face, Antarctica

After our Zodiac rides, the ship sailed on to an anchorage spot in Andvord Bay, adjacent to Neko Harbor and the large glacier flowing into the harbor.

Andvord Bay icebergs surrounding our ship, Antarctica

Andvord Bay icebergs surrounding our ship, Antarctica

 

Panorama of Neko Harbor from the glacier, Antarctica

Panorama of Neko Harbor from the glacier, Antarctica

 

Neko Harbor was named after the whale factory ship, Neko, which operated along the Antarctica Peninsula in 1911-1912 and again in 1923-1924.  This beautiful embayment in the coast of Andvord B ay is a breeding site for Gentoo Penguins, Shuas (birds which are mortal enemies of the penguins), Snowy Sheathbills and Kelp Gulls.

Neko Harbor Gentoo Penguin rookery, Antarctica

Neko Harbor Gentoo Penguin rookery, Antarctica

Our landing ashore at Neko Harbor was our first opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic continent!

View of Neko Harbor from atop the glacier, Antarctica

View of Neko Harbor from atop the glacier, Antarctica

The intrepid traveler and your blogger after hiking up the glacier, overlooking Neko Harbor, Antarctica

The intrepid explorer and your blogger after hiking up the glacier, overlooking Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Neko Harbor mountain and glacier, Antarctica

Neko Harbor mountain and glacier, Antarctica

 

“Antarctica has this mythic weight. It resides in the collective unconscious of so many people, and it makes this huge impact, just like outer space. It’s like going to the moon.” ― Jon Krakauer

 

Neko Harbor glacier face, Antarctica

Neko Harbor glacier face, Antarctica

Storm raging over the moutains overlooking Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Storm raging over the mountains overlooking Neko Harbor, Antarctica

 

Two Gentoo Penguins on the beach at Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Two Gentoo Penguins on the beach at Neko Harbor, Antarctica

“The Gentoo Penguin is easily recognized by the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across the top of its head and its bright orange-red bill.  They have pale whitish-pink webbed feet and a fairly long tail – the most prominent tail of all penguins.  Chicks have grey backs with white fronts.   As the Gentoo Penguin waddles along on land, its tail sticks out behind, sweeping from side to side, hence the scientific name Pygoscelis, which means “rump-tailed”.   Gentoos reach a height of 20 to 35 inches (51 to 90 cm), making them the third-largest species of penguin after the two giant species, the Emperor Penguin and the King Penguin.” — Wikipedia

Gentoo Penguin colony on the beach at Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguin colony on the beach at Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Three Gentoo Penguins on the beach at Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Three Gentoo Penguins on the beach at Neko Harbor, Antarctica

 

Cruising towards the Lemaire Channel from Neko Harbor at 11 pm, Antarctica

Cruising towards the Lemaire Channel from Neko Harbor at 11 pm, Antarctica

 

Keats Glacier, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

A panorama of Keats Glacier, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

A panorama of Keats Glacier, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chilev

TAlberto de Agostini National Park is a Protected Area created on land that was formerly part of “Hollanda” forest reserve and “Hernando de Magallanes National Park” [in Chilean Patagonia]. It covers 5,637 square miles (14,600 km2) and includes the Cordiller Darwin mountain range, which is the final land-based stretch of the Andes before it becomes a chain of mountains appearing as small islands that sink into the Pacific Ocean and the Beagle Channel.” — Wikipedia

Keats Glacier flowing down into Keats Sound, near d’Agostini Sound, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Keats Glacier flowing down into Keats Sound, near d’Agostini Sound, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

“The park, along with Cabo de Hornos National Park, was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. As part of the Magallanes Sub-Polar (or Sub-Antarctic) Evergreen Rainforest, UNESCO highlights the area’s ‘mosaic of contrasting ecosystems and unique and singular characteristics on a world level.’ Several tidewater glaciers and steep fjords can be found in the park.” — Wikipedia

Waterfalls of melting mountain snow flowing into Keats Sound, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Waterfalls of melting mountain snow flowing into Keats Sound, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

 

Sailing thorugh d’Agostini Sound on the way to the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia, Argentina, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Sailing through d’Agostini Sound on the way to the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia, Argentina, Alberto de Agostini National Park, Patagonia, Chile