Leopard Seal Surprise!

Ron Niebrugge Antarctica, Photos 2 Comments

As we were photographing this sleeping Leopard Seal we were very surprised to see this Gentoo Penguin blast out of the water and land very near one of its feared predators!  Before the Leopard Seal could wake up, the Gentoo Penguin quietly walked to the edge of the iceberg and jumped back into the ocean undetected.

Antarctic Peninsula

Ron Niebrugge Antarctica, Photos, Travel 3 Comments

This is the moon over the Antarctic Peninsula near the Antarctic Circle.

So many things were backwards down there.  For starters, it was summer in January.  It seemed weird to head South during the summer for longer days and North meant shorter days.

The one thing I hadn’t thought about was that the moon would be backwards.  It appears backward because we are basically looking at it from upside down when you are at the bottom of the earth, kinda like standing on your head.

So in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun light moves across the moon from the left to the right creating the familiar DOC shapes as it moves towards full and then away, it does just the opposite down South.  In the Southern Hemisphere, that same memory tool becomes COD.  In other words, the D shape you see in this photo we associate with moving towards the full moon actually means we are moving away from it when seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

Adelie Penguins

Ron Niebrugge Antarctica, Photos, Travel 2 Comments

These are three Adelie Penguin – definitely cute and curious little guys.   Penguins have so much personality and can be so expressive – they are really fun to watch!

Here they are on an iceberg.  I often preferred finding them on icebergs because it usually meant nice, clean bright snow.  Since it doesn’t snow much in Antarctica, the snow in and around the colonies was often very dingy looking.  I also liked the graphical simplicity of this setting with a diagonal of snow splitting the blue sky.

Google Street View coming to Antarctica!

Ron Niebrugge Antarctica, Photos, Travel 3 Comments

Google made a lot of news not too long ago when it brought a portable version of its Street View camera system on a hike into the Grand Canyon.  What I didn’t know is that same system would be joining us in Antarctica!

Our trip was joined by a number of researchers working on penguin research for Oceanites including Ron Naveen who had written the guide book to the Antarctic Peninsula I was carrying with me – didn’t expect to be having dinner with the author during my trip, that was a real treat!

Some of the researchers including Ron left us in Antarctica part way into the trip, but two, Dr. Heather Lynch and Dr. Michelle LaRue were not only with us for the entire trip, but were bringing with them Street View cameras from Google.

Heather who you see pictured above carried a portable camera system around Antarctica as she did penguin counts and the different penguin colonies.  Her ongoing research and permits will allow viewers access to areas within the penguin colonies that the typical visitor isn’t allowed to access.  She also carried the system on hikes like the one we did from Baily Head on Deception Island.  This hike begins at Baily Head and continues past a huge Chinstrap Penguin colony before going up and over the volcano rim and down to Whaler’s Bay.  It will be fun to relive these places on Google – and for many people, this may be as close to a hike in Antarctica is they will ever get.  It was my understanding that Heather was carrying the same pack that was used in the Grand Canyon.

Michele was using a different system, it was a tripod mounted array of Canon 7D’s with fish-eye lenses that she would set up at different historical sites.  I thought the 7D instead of the Canon 5D III or II was an interesting choice.

Watch for the final results on Google Earth later this year.

As a side note, it was wonderful having Heather and Michelle on board the vessel because they were so willing to share their vast knowledge of penguins.  Both have spent a great deal of time in Antarctica over the years and had many fascinating stories.  You may have seen Michelle not too long ago being interviewed by Brian Williams on NBC nightly news – her recent discoveries of some previously undiscovered Emperor Penguin colonies brought her a fair amount of attention.

Below is Heather carrying the Street View cameras in a colony of Gentoo Penguins on Cuverville Island.

Antarctic Ice

Ron Niebrugge Antarctica, Photos, Travel 10 Comments

The amazing ice in Antarctica provided endless photo opportunities.  This particular day around Brown Bluff had to be some of the best.  I was taking a group of passengers “Zodiac cruising”, one of my favorite activities, and we found a bunch of large icebergs that had become grounded by the low tide.   Being grounded helped to reveal some amazing details and patterns typically hidden below the water level including what you see here.

This is our last day in Southern California as I thaw out for a few days in Anza-Borrego.  Tomorrow we head back to Alaska!  It will be nice to be home.