THE GREAT SOUTHERN CONTINENT

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"Symmetry demanded it, the balance of the earth demanded it - for in the absence of this tremendous mass of land, what, asked Gerardus Mercator, was there to prevent the world from toppling over to destruction amidst the stars?

The Great Southern continent was to most thinkers of the time more than mere knowledge founded on discovery and experience - it was a feeling, a tradition, a logical and now even a theological necessity, a compelling and inescapable mathematical certitude. Its discovery must come."

Excerpt from the book "Wild Sea" by Joy McCann.

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After 72hrs traveling South we finally reached Ushuaia, some call it "End of the World".

Ushuaia is the gateway to Antarctica. To finally set foot on the continent we must sail through the "Drake Passage". Violent, chaotic, notorious and unpredictable are all words used to describe this sea passage in which over 20,000 sailors have lost their lives, in the past. It can be a true adventure and I say this because the Drake Passage can be all of the above and we call it "Drake Shake" or it can be as gentle as a lake deserving the title "Drake Lake".

It takes about 48 hours to cross the Drake Passage, depending on how furious or gentle might be. Approximately 1,300km to reach our first destination, the Antarctic Circle, current latitude 66°33′43″ S.

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An incredible journey right at the start. Leaving Ushuaia the wild nature is simply put majestic and dramatic, in the sky a great variety of birds fly by. Cape Petrel aka Pintado, travels alongside the ship all the way to the Antarctic Circle. There wasn't a moment I looked outside and did not see a solo "Pintado" followed by a flock of them. I like to call them the " The Ship Guardians" .

 

Then the majestic icebergs, pack ice and bergy bits takes sight all over Seascape. If you look closer, you start noticing the wildlife resting on the little ice islands. 

As the ship moved silently through the waters of the Lemaire Channel surrounded by the ice in all its different forms and shapes I realize how stunningly beautiful it is and at this precise moment I fell in love with ICE.

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Icebergs have incredible stories. Once an iceberg calves off, its adventure begins. During its journey the iceberg can collide and break apart, drifting thousands of miles across the Southern Ocean or stay intact but get an interesting shape as waves crashes and reshape it. 

Icebergs are carried to their present location by a combination of ocean currents; the coastal countercurrent flows counter-clockwise close to Antarctica, while the powerful and largest ocean current on Earth, the Antarctic Circumpolar current, flows clockwise. 

The Drake passage keeps the Icebergs from continuing counter-clockwise around the continent as the Antarctic Circumpolar squeezes through with its massive current clockwise, from that point icebergs can quickly whip north toward the equator and rapidly melt or continue spinning around the continent, sometimes for decades.  

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

... And now there came both mist and snow,

And it grew wondrous cold;

And ice, mast-high, came floating by,

As green as emerald.

 

And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen;

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—

The ice was all between.

 

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around;

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound! ...

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Encountering this beautiful, traditional sailing vessel against a magnificent glacier in Antarctica, brought to my mind the amazing lives and stories of the greatest explorers of the 1900's.

Antarctica is the highest, coldest, windiest and driest continent.

A land covered by ice & surrounded by ocean. The Antarctic ice sheet covers about 98% of the Antarctic continent and is the largest single mass of ice on Earth.  Glaciation began in Antarctica around 35 million yrs ago. Icebergs are white because the ice is full of tiny air bubbles. When it’s blue, it is an older iceberg, it has had so much pressure over the thousand of years, the air bubbles are all squeezed out and the light reflects blue.

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In one way or another we all depend on ice to survive. Most of wildlife in Antarctica are considered to be ice dependent for food and reproduction. During summer months Humpback whales along with millions of penguins, seals, seabirds, and other whales, feed primarily on Antarctic krill. Krill eat small plants like phytoplankton. Cold, polar water and summer's several hours of daylight make the perfect breeding ground for phytoplankton as well as algae under the surface of sea ice.  Parallel thought, not enough sea ice and there’s not enough food.  And to add, a Chinese firm has launched what it claims is the world’s largest purpose-built vessel for fishing Antarctic krill, and it isn't alone, there are also other nations doing just the same. All the above poses a major threat to the continent’s ecosystem.

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The beautiful thing about going to Antarctica is there's so much to learn. The wildlife, its behaviour

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WHALES

"For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

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STONINGTON STATION

SCIENCE IN ANTARCTICA HAS GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET.

People that live at the Research Stations are the only humans to reside in Antarctica. Some all year round while others, mostly scientists, spend the austral summer months studying and collecting materials that helps understand not only centuries of the history of our planet but also the future.

 

 

There are currently 70 permanent research stations scattered across the continent of Antarctica, which represent 29 countries from every continent on Earth. Only a few are open all year round, most of them are only for austral summer while others are completely abandoned but haven’t been “cleaned up” to solidify geopolitical claims to land, fishing rights and minerals. Some nations have up to 5 research stations in the continent.

 

 

For 60 years and signed by 54 countries, The Antarctic Treaty recognizes Antarctica's unique position on the planet as a shared environment to be used for peaceful purposes and international cooperative scientific research. Together, Antarctica shall be used in the interests of all human progress and to better humankind.  And hopefully stays this way, since in 2048 the treaty expires and is set for a standard review.  

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This year due to covid 19 we couldn't land and visit the base but instead with a zodiac we explored the area surrounding it. It's location is called Paradise Bay. Well deserved. The mountains, glaciers, and wildlife are just outstanding and beautiful. 

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PORT LOCKROY

Home to approximately 550 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins

For more than a century Port Lockroy has been a home for explorers, whalers, scientists, and sailors who have made vital contributions to Antarctic history.

 

French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot discovered Port Lockroy during his 1903―1905 expedition, naming the area after the politician who helped him finance those voyages, Étienne-Auguste-Édouard Lockroy.

 

Between 1911 and 1931, the harbor of Port Lockroy was used primarily for whaling.

 

In 1944 it became Britain’s first permanent Antarctic base during a World War II mission (code-named Operation Tabarin), and it remained in use as a research station until 1962. In 2006, the building was turned into a museum, post office and gift shop operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. 

Today, the harbour has become the most popular visitor destination in Antarctica.

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Base Orcadas

Orcada 

On November 2, 1902, William Speirs Bruce led an expedition to the Antarctic aboard the Scotia. They would be the first to explore the Weddell Sea and started the first permanent research station, the Omond House, on the South Orkney Island of Laurie on April 1, 1903.

DECEPTION ISLAND

Volcano and Whaling Station

More than 10,000 years ago there was a huge volcanic eruption and Deception Island was born

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SAILOR'S SOULS

This is a great place to add a tagline.

Tell customers more about you. Add a few words and a stunning pic to grab their attention and get them to click.

This space is ideal for writing a detailed description of your business and the types of services that you provide. Talk about your team and your areas of expertise. 

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WEDDEL 
SEAL

This is a great place to add a tagline.

Tell customers more about you. Add a few words and a stunning pic to grab their attention and get them to click.

This space is ideal for writing a detailed description of your business and the types of services that you provide. Talk about your team and your areas of expertise. 

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