Images of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn.Photograph taken at West Point Island, a small island in the Falkland Islands, which has an endemic Falklands species - the Falklands Flightless Steamer-Duck. West Point Island also has a seabird colonies which include King or Blue eyed Shags (also known by various other names and sometimes claimed as separate species or sub-species). It also has large numbers of Rockhopper and Magellanic Penguins and Black Browed Albatross.
Any visit to the Southern Ocean may come across icebergs. The further South you sail, the more likely you are to encounter them. This iceberg was photographed off the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica.
Deception Island lies in the South Shetland Island archipelago, off the Antarctic Peninsula. This island is a collapsed caldera (a collapsed volcanic cone of great size), about 80,000 years old. As a result, it is a "hollow" island, which was flooded by the sea. The entry to this natural harbour is very narrow so that from most angles of approach this isn't visible (thus 'Deception Island'). The entrance is known as 'Neptune's Bellows' because of the way the wind howls through the narrow rock passageway. There is still volcanic activity at Deception - amongst other wreckage of recent eruptions are the remnants of a Chilean Base destroyed by volcanic activity in 1967. These eruptions also destroyed the remains of the Whaling station on the Island and a British Antarctic Survey base.
Another effect of the continued volcanic activity on Deception Island are the hot springs which can give the island a slightly eerie feeling. The water inside the caldera is warmer than the surrounding ocean, giving rise to steam and oozing fogs. The warm water also makes it rather uncomfortable for some Antarctic species - the Krill become boiled in the hot water. Some Birds come in to feed on this free lunch - such as these Chinstrap Penguins although the island is better noted for its Geology.
Close in to the mainland of the Antarctic Peninsula, lies Wiencke Island. Nestled into the island is another natural harbour, Port Lockroy. This spectacular harbour was discovered by the French explorer, Charcot on his 1903-5 expedition. Later it was used by the Whalers. There is a substantial Gentoo Penguin rookery on the islands which form the harbour. Both these aspects are visible in this picture of Gentoo Penguins amongst the whale bones. There is also a British Antarctic Survey hut here, it was one of the first two permanently inhabited stations in Antarctica set up under the British wartime operation, Operation Tabarin. It has recently been restored and re-occupied by the British Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Where there are penguins, there are often Skuas. When the skuas fly too close over the nests, the penguins set up an amazing noise - wholly different from that made at any other time - and their eyes follow the passage of the bird - such as this Antarctic Brown Skua over a Gentoo Penguin Colony . It is easy to start imagining that these southern skuas could not survive without baby penguins to eat. However, it is estimated that only about ten percent of Skua nests are dependent on penguin colonies.
Paradise Bay was the sight of a wintering British Antarctic Expedition in 1921-22. Here, two young men, Bagshawe and Lester spent the winter under an upturned Water boat which they turned into a small hut. There is, unfortunately little of it left to see but it is, nevertheless, a remarkable tale and fascinating to visit the location, now known as Waterboat point. There is now a Chilean base here (Gonzalez Videla Station) in the midst of another Gentoo Penguin colony. This colony was one of the first to be comprehensively studied through a full yearly cycle, by Bagshawe and Lester. This small island at Waterboat Point is connected to the "mainland" of the peninsula by an isthmus, on which mini icebergs become grounded at low tide .
Half Moon Island is 1.25 miles long and is named for its crescent moon shape. It lies between Greenwich and Livingstone Islands and was found by the Sealers as early as 1821. The island boasts spectacular views such as the view of Livingstone Island from Half Moon Island. It also has a large Chinstrap Penguin Colony amongst its rocky peaks along with nesting Antarctic Terns, Wilson's Petrels etc. The beaches sometimes hold Antarctic Fur Seals. On the beach can be seen the remains of a wooden boat. Many rumours abound as to its origins. In fact, it was abandoned by one of the early Antarctic Cruise ships when it got into difficulties here in the late 1960's.
When the continent of South America is approached from the South, the first land fall is the infamous island of Cape Horn. Many ships met their end here blasted by the huge seas and savage storms. For many centuries it was the end of the known world. It is a desolate and rugged place but can be very beautiful: sunset at Cape Horn. The island itself is owned by Chile and its beaches are mined.
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