|This is the new Arctowski blog. To see the entries from the 30th Polish Antarctic Expedition, click here.
|You can contact me using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Jacek (jacaDcaps) Piszczek @ The Polish Antarctic Station, Henryk Arctowski, 2nd stay
2012/12/07 - Time for some closure. In the end I went back to Poland right after the
Torres del Paine trip and finally got to my hometown - Torun - on the 13th of November. Right
now I am already back at my regular job, living in a small flat in Warsaw, trying to get used
to the daily life in Poland. The few weeks I have already spent here have been pretty random and a bit bumpy,
but I was able to see most of my friends already and even run in a half marathon :)
Torres del Paine itself was quite an adventure. I've spent 4 days and 3 sleepless nights in the park, carrying two heavy backpacks. The weather was really bad, except for the last day. Heavy wind, rain, snow and the cold made it an unforgettable experience. I've been doing about 20km each day, except for the last one which was an easy 8km hike. Luckily, you can drop your backpack everywhere you like if you intend to go back the same way or even leave your tent set up in one of the camp sites. That really saved me on the second day. It was raining and snowing the whole day and I've seen just 3 people during the whole hike - everyone gathered at a refugio that was waiting for me at the end of that day's hike. At least it was possible to sit next to a small stove and warm/dry myself up a bit before going back to the tent. The 3rd day was probably the worst since I was already quite tired, had to carry everything with me the whole way and end the day with a steep climb to the camp site below the Torres. The sunrise made it really worthwile though!
See for yourself...
2012/11/6 – So here I am in Chile, Puerto Natales.
The stay at Stanley was actually pretty interesting thanks to a meeting I seriously did not expect. It turned out Mariusz, a winterer from my previous stay at Arctowski was also at the Falklands at the time. We had a chance to drink some wine and talk about the good old times at Arctowski and how our lives have changed since then - the last time we saw each other in real life was over a year ago, when I was packing for the Wintering.
I also did some shorter and longer walks, but couldn't see any Magellanic penguins at the Gypsy Cove in the end, although there were some nests there - they dig them underground. I did however see several minefields. Minefields also surrounded us through half the way to the Mount Pleasant RAF airport from which we flew to Punta Arenas, Chile.
Punta Arenas is pretty small, but at least my mobile phone finally started sort of working - how do you even use a thing like that again? :)
Anyway, I am preparing for the Torres del Paine trekking tour right now. This is going to be fun :)
2012/11/01 – The cargo unloading period was rough on everyone - as usual. After a few hours of
good weather when the Polar Pioneer arrived, the weather went bad and we had to resort to doing one or two amphibia
loads at a time and taking a longer break, sometimes for two days, waiting for the winds to calm down. Ironically,
the crabeaters I really wanted to photograph during this stay showed up during the fuel delivery when I already
had my zoom lens packed into the box that will arrive in Poland sometime in May next year. Either way I did take
several photos during the unloading, but have no means of uploading them right now.
Due to the strong winds, we had plenty of problems with ice. Our amphibia got stuck several times just a few meters from the shore and we wasted a lot of time just getting it afloat or back on land. During the last day we even lost our zodiacs since their engines cooling systems got stuck after sucking in pea sized chunks of ice. Just pushing the zodiac through all the ice was a challenge. Luckily the water in our bay was clear next to the ship itself.
The Drake could have been worse... but it wasn't nice either. We generally strayed off course to avoid the worst, but the waves were still pretty big and the ship would move in all directions forcing us to spend most of the time lying down. Eating was always worst since the mess is located in the front of the ship. It ain't funny when you and your food goes up and down a couple of meters every 10 seconds or so. You'd eat quickly and run away praying you'll manage to get to your room before your body decides to reject what you just ate. Half an hour in the bed, eyes closed, would usually help.
Port Stanley, Falklands looks as if a small part of Great Britain had been cut out and placed in the southern hemisphere. Apart from the fact that everyone drives a jeep here, it really looks familiar. I was expecting some weird accent, but people here speak pretty nice English which is generally easy for me to understand. The only thing I can whine about is the Internet access price - 10 pounds per 100 minutes does hurt.
And there's the minefields, of course.
2012/10/17 - And that's it :)... It's been an exciting, sometimes scary
but most of all a really surprising year. Hope you enjoyed this blog.
And where the hell are the crabeater seals, eh?
|2012/10/14 - Went for a few short walks around the area to take a few photos. There's plenty of elephant seals coming to our area now. The weddel seal pup is a lot bigger than the last time I went there. The American Copacabana crew arrived today on their icebreaker and supplied us with some fresh vegetables, fruits, milk and eggs - what a feast this is! We didn't have anything fresh since months now, the apples only lasted until April or so. So a loaf of freshly baked bread, butter, ham, lettuce, tomatoes and onions tasted like heaven!
2012/10/12 - Spring time is really here. The elephant seals came back after
the winter season and formed harems in which the pups are born. We were lucky enough
to witness this at Patelnia. The day turned out to be marvellous (up to the point of
sunburn). It was really great being able to cross the glaciers, see Patelnia, Baranowski
and the Copacabana beach. The Bay is currently mostly free of ice, although most days
are rather windy. Snow seems to be melting at rapid speeds again - but who knows - a few
days ago we had a lot of snowfall as well.
Since this year in the Antarctica is coming to an end, I wanted to thank all of you who have been following this blog during these past months. Thanks for all the emails and other feedback I've received about the blog and youtube channel uploads.
There will still be a few more entries before we leave. I'll try to give an account of my journey back into civilisation when I'm back in Poland.
|2012/10/11 - Short sequence from the elephant seal colony where the little ones are now being born. Photos to follow.
|2012/10/10 - There's too much happening for me to keep up lately. The world around is slowly changing after the Winter season. I'm spending hours on Skype (hi Magda! :) and trying to get the return trip organised. Luckily there's still some time to make some photos.
|2012/10/05 - Over the past few days we've seen waves of adeli penguins coming back to the rookeries. On a nice calm day like the one pictured, you'd be able to hear them calling from far away in the Bay. The adelis already ashore would reply to their calls and within minutes, you could see a group of 5-10 penguins jumping out of the water.
|2012/09/29 - A few photos I've been circulating to IRC and Skype dwellers for the past few days. Went to do sea mammal monitoring with Joanna and Artur on a really nice sunny day which gave us an opportunity to take a few photos. It's really cool how quickly one can move on top of the glacier. The Copacabana beach had quite a few gentoos though less than the last time I was there. That was also the day I saw that lovely weddel seal pup. The next post will finally have some adelis :)
2012/09/28 - It suddenly feels like the pace around here is picking up after
the winter. There's a lot of happening in the nature around Arctowski and in life.
A weddel seal was just born near the Station, the adelis have come back and
there's more and more of them each day. Soon the sheathbills and fur seals will
disappear and skuas will come back. It was +8.1°C for a short moment today
and for about half an hour I was walking around outside in just a t-shirt.
|2012/09/25 - With Polar Pioneer on its way, some of the people here are mostly packed. We're just waiting for the confirmation of our return flights to start planning trips through South America. It seems that today we'll have to dig to remove snow from doors and windows to our main building. Sunny days mix with gloomy ones lately, and unexpectedly, last sunday was sunny. I've hiked to the Italian Valley again to have a look at the sunbathed glaciers and rest a bit from the usual daily noise at Arctowski. It was a perfectly windless day, so the only things one could hear was snow and ice under my feet and rare shouts of the antarctic terns, which have returned here in large numbers. It was really warm in the sun, despite -10°C on the thermometer. The way back through Ezcurra was even nicer - all the melting that's been going on for a while now formed a wide, flat and solid path at the shore. Some photos below.
|2012/09/18 - A few better days meant several walks in the area as well as some extra time spent on the scooters. Sadly, they're past now and we've been having another rough period of rainy, windy and dusky days. Luckily, northern winds usually don't cause big problems with our satellite dish, so Skype chats kept me from being depressed about the sights outside. A few photos shot before the bad weather came below.
2012/09/13 - Sometimes our daily routines can be changed by doing something fun or
by a totally unexpected visit from the new Ferraz crew. We had a chance to meet the new
chief of the base, take a few photos and chat about the challenges standing before them.
Hopefully they will be wintering here next season, so let's keep our fingers crossed it all
goes well. The Brazilian ships should be here by the beginning of November, so hopefully
we will have a chance to see them before we depart.
|2012/09/6 - The spring didn't last long, but at least it left us with a few more opportunities to make photos. The gentoos started showing up near the base now, but since both snow and packed ice are back, they may as well stop coming - haven't seen any today at least. We're looking forward to the adeli penguins as well. Meanwhile, a lone leopard seal appeared on the ice near the lighthouse. That's a sign there's food nearby (read: penguins).
|2012/09/1 - The gentoo penguins are back at Copacabana and in great numbers. They've already started working on rebuilding the nests in all of their colonies over there. It was really cool being able to see them again after the long period of their absence. They showed up a couple of times during the winter and we could also hear them calling from time to time, but that cannot really be compared to thousands of them sitting in one place.
2012/08/29 - Finally a period of better weather. The snow is slowly melting, but it's still possible
to move around on the ski-doos. We had some heavy snowfall right after the flood, but that's all gone now.
There's more and more water below the buildings, especially the meteorological one.
Meanwhile, the 37th Polish Antarctic Expedition is getting ready to embark. Polar Pioneer is in Gdynia already and is said to depart in a few days.
2012/08/21 - After a very windy week (up to 42m/s) and a rapid rise in temperature (up to +6°C)
we had a small flood last Sunday. All the water coming down from the hills got stuck in the snow
accumulated near our lake, the lake itself overflowed posing a risk of its walls being breached. In the
end we didn't have a choice but to wear our (leaking) suits and to dig a tunnel for the water to flow
freely. See for yourself (movie material courtesy of Joanna Dzido).
(I've decided to remove the audio because it was very very windy)
2012/08/14 - It's been snowing every day during the last two weeks. Meanwhile we're all
talking about the new crew that's bound to replace us soon and Polar Pioneer's departure which
is supposed to happen earlier than usual this year.
Random sheathbills photos below :)
|2012/08/1 - Weather still spotty, there's more and more snow. Haven't really been going out much cause whenever there was free time to do that, the weather would have turned a nice hike into a nightmare. Bad winds also meant a lot of downtime for our satellite uplink. At work we're closing more and more of our tiny little projects like replacing the electrical installation in the old parts of main building, which also meant a lot of fun for me as I had to rewire the VHF & telephone installations there. Surprisingly, the stay at Arctowski is also a chance to get into industrial computer controllers like the ones handling our fuel installation and generators. Interesting programming tasks at least compensate lack of good weather a bit. But just a tiny bit.
|2012/07/22 - Time seems to be accelerating rapidly, despite the fact that it's winter. The photos below were shot some time ago already - the past two weeks haven't been kind to us in terms of weather. I've been fighting with an ice cap on our satellite dish for a few days, losing to the cold - must have sprayed about 200l of hot water on it just to lose 1 more dB of the signal strength again. Then finally a warmer wind from the north came and melted most of the ice on its own. Just needed a gentle push with a mop to get rid of the rest. As I'm writing this, there's a lot of snow fall coming in the direction of the antenna and the temperature outside is still above 0°C. Perfect conditions for the snow to glue itself to the dish and form another cap. Morning might be fun!
|2012/07/17 - Another batch of photos from one of the calm, great winter days.
2012/07/11 - Great, windless weather continues. Here's a few photos from a short walk
to Jedynka Point below Point Thomas to get a short look into Ezcurra.
Since the sky was mostly clear during the night, I took this opportunity to take a few night shots around Arctowski.
2012/07/7 - A few photos from a short trip to the Ecology glacier, shot about
a week ago. Meanwhile the soft snow hardened a bit and there's a thin layer of solid
snow on top of the snow powder - either it supports your weight and you can walk on it
with ease, or it does not and you fall in, sometimes pretty deep.
We just had three calm days with practically no wind at all. It felt great to be able to sit in the snow, next to a gentoo penguin, and listen to his breath.
Because of this I've got a pretty big backlog of photos to process, so expect more posts soon. And speaking of photos, my Canon's photo counter just passed 22000 :)
|2012/07/2 - It snowed for the past two weeks, heavily in the last few days. It's becoming increasingly difficult to move around - the snow is too soft for the snow scooters or even snow shoes. In some places there's a soft layer that's about 1m thick and you just fall in when you step on a patch like that.
|2012/06/29 - A bunch of fur seals and one elephant seal showed up on the beach near the lighthouse. Their fur is now a lot thicker than it was in the summer. We still rarely see any animals so I just had to take this opportunity to take a few photographs.
|2012/06/23 - Mornings like this one are very very rare.
|2012/06/22 - I already talked about our ICOM radio breaking down, so here's a photo from the repair operation. Also a few winter photos from our ski-doo trips.
2012/06/10 - Almost overslept through the first halo
appearance during this winter. In truth I've been waiting for this phenomenon to occur. Bit of a pity it wasn't
a complete halo, but hopefully we'll see some more in the upcoming months.
Meanwhile the temperature outside has reached its record low with -18C and -40C with wind chill factor included. Today was the first calm day after several days of snow blizzards.
|2012/06/07 - A completely unexpected visit from the Chilean Frei base. Got the packages I was waiting for (thanks again!). It only took a little over 2 months - I can call myself lucky. The other packages that arrived were for Copacabana people.
2012/06/05 - We just had a few days of rough weather - just take a look at the graph below!
Obviously this meant we've spent most of the time indoors. Since it started snowing when the temperature
was slightly above 0°C, many of the doors were glued with snow turned into an ice cover. It took me
10 minutes today to get the doors to the meteorological building to open.
After that Chris and I took ski-doos and went up on Point Thomas to install the rebuilt and reprogrammed VHF radio there. Sadly, it seems we will also have to replace one of the antennas there.
|2012/06/04 - May is finally over. It was mostly an annoying month to all of us because of the weather - usually bad during weekends, very frustrating. Right now it seems the Winter has finally started.
2012/05/27 - Last Wednesday we went out to count the sea mammals along the beach. Joanna
and Artur covered the area from Demay to Red Hills, Waldek and Krzysztof from Ecology to Arctowski,
while I did Demay - Baranowski - Copa - Ecology. Normally this is a really short walk - unless you
decide to stray a bit. It was generally slippery on the beach - the fresh snow laying on
ice covered stones. Penguin paths were the best - after hundreds of them firmed the snow, walking
was pure pleasure. Showers of snow ruined a few photo opportunities, but in general it was a
really nice calm day.
Copacabana looks really sad without its usual habitants - everything dark and closed. I've used the main building as a temporary shelter while waiting for the zodiac crew to come pick me up from the beach.
2012/05/22 - Did I mention May is the worst month in Admirality Bay? During the 30th
Expedition it rained for about 28 days (not constantly, there just was some rain almost every day).
This time we've had temperatures going from +4°C to -10°C in a couple of hours, wind up to 40m/s,
heavy snowfall, then snow melting... and still no animals.
Since nature is so boring, here's a few photos from our power generators building.
2012/05/11 - A few years back, during the 30th Polish Antarctic Expedition, we only had
e-mail access at Arctowski and had to visit Ferraz to surf the Internet or call with Skype, etc.
We did however have enough crazy ideas to film passing through two ice caves in the biggest
moraine next to the Ecology glacier. These caves - sadly - have collapsed since then, so it's
impossible to re-shoot this with a HD camera. This was truly an experience - middle of the winter,
the cold, darkness, a really heavy truck battery we had to carry up there in order to have
some light inside the caves. We probably went through both of them at least 3 times in order
to shoot those scenes, which took about 3-4 hours.
2012/05/08 - Another batch of random weather photos.
If you were wondering whether we had a day off on the 1st and 3rd of May which are national holidays in Poland - we did. Since we assumed people in Poland would be having fun with one of these, we just had to do a barbecue here as well.
|2012/05/04 - Just a few birds left on a beach. Still no seals around. Gentoo penguins stopped showing up on the beach too... Makes it a bit boring when going outside.
2012/04/30 - Some random photos of the sky. I'm responsible for weather monitoring, so there's
always a point and shoot camera in the pocket of my work coat. Despite relatively good weather lately,
there's almost no animals around. It feels pretty weird to be the only mammal on the beach :)
We had some problems with the main water pipe connecting our lake and the pumping station with the Agregaty (power generators) building. It turned out that the heating cable around the pipe broke in several places and we had to wait for the temperature to rise above 0C to be able to dig the pipe out and fix it. Luckily, the water is back again. Another issue could arise if gets very very cold and the lake begins freezing at the bottom - there's obviously a thick layer of ice on top already. Luckily we have a system that lets the water come back to the lake from the Agregaty building, so the warmer water is constantly being mixed with icy one in the lake.
|2012/04/22 - After a week of bad weather it's finally calm again. Sadly, the bay is filled with packed ice again, so we cannot use our zodiacs. In most places there isn't enough snow for ski-doos so it's pretty hard to move things between buildings. We were all hoping to see a Chilean helicopter yesterday since some people heard it in Ezcurra, but sadly they had other plans. It's pretty disappointing that despite the large amount of packed ice there are still no crabeater seals around. Really looking forward to seeing one again...
2012/04/16 - Gentoo penguins gather near our main building every day now - sometimes there's literally
hundreds of them nearby.
2012/04/12 - A special treat for all the followers of this blog - a 360° panorama taken from the lighthouse.
A fur seal was trying to reach the open water through the thin ice that just started forming near the shore. It was too thin to support her most of the time so it looked pretty hilarious - just had to film that. Sorry it's a bit shaky. Whenever I decide not to take a tripod with me, something worth filming happens...
|2012/04/11 - A few photos from a calm winter day - yesterday. Today the Station and surrounding area looks completely different. 30m/s northern wind brought rain and higher temperatures. It's +5C now, most of the snow has melted and the packed ice is slowly moving towards the exit from the Admirality Bay. Who knows? Maybe we'll be able to use our zodiacs again soon?
|2012/04/9 - Photos from the past two weeks. Ever since Polar Pionner left we've had more and more snowfall and lower and lower temperatures. A few days of storms brought a lot of packed ice from the Weddel Sea, practically isolating us from the world - at least by the sea. The Wintering has truly started now. Hopefully we're going to see some Chilean helicopters from time to time.
2012/04/03 - Sorry for not keeping in touch for a while - we were all a bit tired after dealing with Polar Pioneer
and I didn't feel like updating the blog.
All in all, we managed to deal with all the cargo we had to transfer to the ship quite smoothly - 4 full PTS loads, 3 people working on the PTS itself, 2 securing them on a zodiac and 2 loading the PTS up on land using a crane. About 7 hours of hard work in rain and mud - luckily for us, it was quite warm - around +3C.
And so we're on our own now - the Brazilian are still in the area for a few more days and we had a very nice lunch at Maximiano a few days ago, but most likely we won't see many new faces until October. We did however had a chance to see krill - photos below.
Check out the wikipedia article about krill! They're pretty interesting.
2012/03/26 - PTS loaded and ready, we're in waiting mode. Polar Pioneer is bound to come
here in about a day. Looks like we'll have bad weather here again...
So far, the wind is picking up - above 40 knots already. These are no conditions for a PTS. Polar Pioneer is now anchored at the Argentinian base from which it's going to pick up the cargo from the German Dalman Laboratory. This kind of reminds me of November when we were unloading everything at Arctowski during really bad weather. Let's hope it calms down tomorrow.
2012/03/21 - A few views from the Station area in the last days. No penguins,
a little bit of snow...
2012/03/15 - Another random photo dump. We're slowly preparing for the arrival of
our supply ship Polar Pioneer. It is going to take the belongings of the previous
wintering crew, some garbage and all remaining people of the summer crew back to Poland.
ETA: end of March. That means that the actual wintering is going to start pretty soon now!
Copacabana is empty now. That's so sad. Apart from the Brazilians showing up from time to time, still investigating the incidents at Ferraz, we're mostly alone here now :(
2012/03/06 - Several people have asked me whether we get any nighttime here. Well - we do. Technically
we're not that far south yet to have a polar day/night when the sun never sets or never rises for half a year. There's a short
period when there's technically night, but it's not really dark. Once the sun sets you can still some light coming from
the West and once that's gone, there's light coming from the East.
So, we do get nights at Arctowski now. As a matter of fact, it gets pretty dark by 9pm.
|2012/03/05 - Made a last trip to Copacabana this season before it gets closed for the winter. We will still be able to warm ourselves up there, but the hut will be empty in a few days. It was really great to be able to see the whole crew again and a chance to make some more photos.
2012/03/04 - We had really cool clouds on the first day of March. And a rainbow!
You can get the wallpaper sized photo by clicking here.
|2012/03/04 - A bunch of photos shot in the past weeks.
|2012/03/4 - In the Antarctic it is not only important to wear warm clothes. Fashion is also important ;) Here's a photo from an Antarctic fashion photo shoot. Gumboots are the most popular item every season.
|2012/03/2 - Our lives have returned to normal already. We had a visit of a Chilean patrol ship Lautaro a few days ago. Almirante Maximiano and Gulmar Atlantis are in the bay right now, investigating what happened at Ferraz.
2012/02/26-28 - We are all devastated by yesterdays events. On the Saturday night there was an explosion
and a fire at the Brazilian Ferraz station - our great friends and wintering neighbors. The whole main building
burnt down, two of the crew died fighting the fire. What a great loss to the whole Antarctic community!
Our two zodiacs crew were the first to arrive at the scene, quickly followed by Argentinians and Chileans.
UPDATE: added one more photo. Click here to see the photos made by the crew of HMS Protector which arrived at the scene around 15 hours after the fire broke out. The view is really depressing.
2012/02/20 - A bunch of photos shot last week. Seems it's going to be the last batch of summer photos.
Last Saturday we had a lot of snow with heavy wind from the south - and the lowest temperature since we've
arrived: -5C. Right now the snow is slowly melting, there's a lot of mud everywhere again.
We went to Ferraz last Sunday for a barbecue. It took us almost 3 hours to put the zodiac on water - there was so much snow that our tractor got stuck in it and we had to dig it out and then use the bulldozer to push the half-melted snow away. Add to that a big tidal wave at the Copacabana beach and we got back really wet and very tired.
2012/2/13 - Elephant seals and a fur seal in Paradise Cove
2012/02/06 - We had a visit of a small ship Hans Hanssen on the 1st of February here. The
ship brought people from BBC's Frozen Planet and a NHK film crew - they were shooting our base
and the animals around it for the Japanese version of Frozen Planet. Didn't really have time to make
any photos, it was a very busy day.
After all the filming, the captain was kind enough to take Waldek and me to Paradise Cove. After conducting the sea mammal monitoring we had to stay in our field hut until Saturday, because the weather was too bad for us to go back. We also had to wait for a day with a low tide low enough for us to be able to cross the bar at the Baranowski Glacier's lagoon safely (and without getting our feet wet, which happened anyway). All in all those few days were really great. The weather during the monitoring was really great and there were plenty of animals around. Especially the fur seals.
In the end we crossed the bar in heavy rain and wind and by the time we got to Copacabana we were soaking wet despite our wind/waterproof gear. We ended up staying there for a few hours which gave us a chance to dry our things a bit and warm ourselves up (and eat some cookies). Luckily, the wind died down around 4pm, so we were able to go back to Arctowski together with the whole Copacabana crew.
|2012/01/29 - It's cool to be guests rather than hosts once in a while. On a nice Sunday morning we got a call from HMS Protector that just entered Amirality Bay. They invited us for lunch. After a quick tour through the ice breaker operated by the Royal Navy, we ate lunch with the captain and some of the crew and then had a chance to chat with the officers for a while.
|2012/01/25 - Below you'll see some of the last photos I made before the adelis went to water - now the rookery is practically empty. There are still gentoos and chinstraps on the beach, but an adeli is a rare sight. They will probably show up here again in September, at the end of the winter season. The oldest skua chiks are getting ready to fly, they look almost like their parents now. The fur seals just started showing up - soon there'll be hundreds if not thousands of them here.
2012/1/26 - A short movie shot in December. The wind gusts that day were up to 150km/h.
Even penguins had trouble walking :)
|2012/1/19 - A few HDR photos from the Monday trip
2012/1/19 - Once again a longer break in updating the blog. There's just too many things
going on in here. Last week three Brazilian scientists arrived, they'll be staying with us for a month.
During the weekend we got a visit of two Polish yachts. On Tuesday, the Polish summer group - 7 people -
was brought here on Argentinian ship Canal Beagle. There's also Anne from Dallman/Jubany Station staying
with us since Saturday, brought to us on HMS Protector. Ah... and we're expecting the Brazilians to land
their zodiacs with 7 people onboard anytime now...
But anyway, I managed to make some photos during the last week. On Monday we got a day off after a working Sunday and luckily the weather was just perfect for a zodiac trip. We went deep into Ezcurra, climbed up on the Dufayel island and made a short trip to Copacabana on our way back.
2012/01/10 - Some HDR views I made a few days ago. To get high res versions click on the links below:
View from Jardine Peak
2012/1/9 - Found a moment to upload the video below. Young adelis are now running around the
rookeries or just gather together. To be fed, they now have to chase after their parents. People
from Copacabana explained that the purpose of this is so that the chicks become stronger - they
need to build up a lot of muscle before they start going into the ocean.
2012/1/8 - Once again I didn't have the time to update the blog, which simply means that there
was more happening here than usual. First of all - the New Year Party! 31st December started very early
for me since we were to
in the Polish TVN channel in one of their morning programs (which meant waking up at 3:40am). Right after
our midday meal we had a visit of M/S Expedition with some 100 tourists. Right at their departure we also
left - for Ferraz. It's a tradition here that the New Years party is held at the Brazilian base.
Together with five of our crew and Penny from the American base we took a zodiac ride to the other
side of the bay. The party was just as fun as I remembered from my previous stay here. Great food, running around the main buildings
shouting whatever came to our heads right after midnight and a swim in the ocean around 2am. It's a real pity we
had to return early morning on the 1st day of 2012.
As for the nature around us, we've had some really nice days recently - and some bad too :) The penguin chicks are already running around the rookery, far away from their parents. They're still hungry though so they chase adults all the time to get fed. Most skua chicks have already hatched, some are walking around their nests already while some still curl up in the grass. Americans have already started banding them, as you can see on the photos below.
|2011/12/25 - Guess what? A leopard seal showed up just in time for Christmas.
|2011/12/23 - Some photos from the rookery
2011/12/23 - The adeli chicks are growing really fast. They eat a lot too :) Here's a short
movie showing how they are fed. The oldest chicks have already started wandering off from their nests.
Soon they'll form small groups of chicks - they usually stick together.
|2011/12/20-21 - Here's the batch of photos from the trip to Patelnia and Paradise Cove
2011/12/20-21 - People are often asking about the science that we do here. During the 20 and 21st of December I was able to take part in
one of the scientific activities we're doing here. Every +/- 10 days we have to walk along the beach from Jedynka Point (our fuel tank) up to
Patelnia. During the hike we have to count all the sea mammals (that is, seals and fur seals) we see on the beach and in the water. Thanks to the fact
that the 31st Expedition built a field hut at the Paradise Cove, we no longer have to do this and go back to the Station immediately. Instead we can
spend a night or two at Demay, depending on the weather. The hut has a stove that heats up water so we even have a shower there. In the end we went to Demay
by zodiac, unloaded some food and fuel and went to count the animals. We got back to the hut at about 8pm and got some sleep - we had to catch a low tide
early in the morning to be able to return via the lake below Baranowski glacier. We then spent quite a few hours at the Copacabana station - it was a solstice
party day after all :) I have prepared a Google maps map with several locations around the base and the area we operate on marked. See below:
View Arctowski Area in a larger map
|2011/12/16 - With wind gusts up to 150km/h, we were having a rather hard period for a few days. Sorry I haven't been updating the blog for a while - hopefully I'll find enough time now to pick the photos for a few posts I should have done days before. For now, have a look at how the air pressure was rapidly changing during those wind gusts. 13hPa spikes!
2011/12/14 - I was able to join the Americans on their way back to the Copacabana station after the weekly Saturday party on Arctowski. After crossing
the Ecology glacier lake on their canoe I spent most of the day running around the area close to their station. It is a wide beach covered in moss and grass and
penguin colonies. Last time I was here it was mostly gentoos, but now also adelis and chinstraps nest here, not even separately but between the gentoo nests.
The Copacabana station looks basically like it did before - and it's as nice as it used to be. I ended up spending the night there since the wind was too bad for us to canoe back to the Arctowski side of the lake. In the end it wasn't much better on monday, but a low tide made crossing easier. The lake is connected to the ocean and gets mostly empty during a low tide.
2011/12/10 - The animals living in the Antarctic really know no mercy. While visiting the rookeries again I stumbled upon a dead chick
and another almost dead one which got killed by the old adelis while I was making photos and this short movie:
2011/12/06 - While trying to make some better footage of the young adeli chicks I managed to film a fight between those crazy birds... See for yourself.
2011/12/04 - The adeli chicks have finally started hatching a few days ago. They're not that easy to photograph or film at the moment since many
nests still have eggs - as always the most interesting things happen in the middle of the rookery. Yesterday I circled around the biggest rookery near
the station and waited until some of the penguins decided to stand up on their nests. Usually they're just laying on their bellies and the chicks
are well hidden from our sight. Luckily the day was pretty warm, so I was able to stay there for a while. Expect some photos in a day or two.
2011/11/28 - Gentoos, woo! :)
2011/11/28 - The weather changed for some reason. It's kind of hard to believe, but it's been good for
over a week now. While we're slowly getting suspicious, we're also enjoying the mostly windless days. Thanks to this
we were able to join the Americans for Thanksgiving dinner and had a huge party with people from Ferraz and Castillo.
Meanwhile I also had a chance to make more nature photos. Some of them can be found below.
Another wallpaper sized image can be found here.
2011/11/20 - The weather did not allow us to meet anyone during the weekend in the end, but we've had
some extraordinary luck though - an unusual guest. An king penguin showed up on Arcrtowski. We've spotted it
between our food storage and bio laboratory buildings. I followed it to take some photos.
Some wallpaper sized images are here and here.
2011/11/18 - Not that much happened during the last week. The weather's been getting better and worse. We've had
some really great days and some really windy ones. Two days ago MS Expedition visited us bringing about 100 tourists
on shore. Two of the crew were Polish so we had a nice chat. During that time Artur, the chief of our expedition
went with Adam and Krzysiek to do the sea mammals monitoring. They've left us for three days and went to the Demay point,
Paradise Cove and Patelnia to check on the elephant seals and the chinstrap colonies. Meanwhile I've been going to
the penguin colonies near the Station during my free time.
The weather is bad right now, but tomorrow we're hoping to see the Argentinians from Subofficial Castillio and our neighbours from Ferraz as well as the Americans from Copacabana. Party!
|2011/11/13 - Here's a bunch of photos from the unloading at Lions Rump and at the Station. The weather is still bad, but I managed to walk around the area a bit. Next time there'll finally be some penguin photos :)
2011/11/12 - And today a video of the Falkland Islands dolphins and a couple of photos from Mar der Plata and the following days
2011/11/09 - Here's a short video of our amphibian transporter
|2011/11/08 - We're here :) I am too tired to write anything about the unloading, but I will be posting some more, including photos from the last week on the ship and the unloading process in a few days. Right now I'm busy unpacking...
2011/11/05 - In the end I was unable to go online in Mar del Plata, but I am posting what I had prepared before reaching the port as is below.
We entered the Mar del Plata port around noon on the 29th, got past all the immigration procedures and ended up stuck in the port until the transport of our food arrived. I've used this time to photograph birds and sea lions near Polar Pioneer. Once we were finally able to go to the city it was already the evening so we could not even call Poland due to the 5 hour time difference.
We left on sunday to be greeted by great weather which lasted for four days, past Falklands. The dolphins near Falklands did not disappoint. We spent hours outside, watching them play in front of the ship. I'll try to upload a video to youtube soon :) The Drake Passage was slightly worse, but in the end we needed only a little over five days to reach King George.
When I'm writing this we're already done with the unloading at our refuge at Lions Rump - two girls are going to be working there alone until late February. The refuge which is a tiny hut was being built when I was leaving KG five years ago so I was more than willing to go help with the unloading. It was totally worth it - there was a big elephant seal colony just next to the hut with plenty young seals. After we anchored near Arctowski though the wheather started changing and right now it is too windy to do anything. We pushed one amphibia load to the station and unloaded three of our team and are now sailing in and out of the bay. Let's hope the forecast is accurate and we will be able to resume our work during the night.
I am watching those familiar mountains and glaciers from the middle of the bay right now and suddenly feel at home again. It's good to be back.
Day two: we managed to put three amphibia loads on shore, getting rid of the -20C food container, its contents and most of our belongings, some juice, water, etc. Sadly, the wind has picked up again and we were forced to stop again. Right now we're on our way to the Argentinian Jubany station to unload the German and Argentinian crews - let's hope the weather is good enough there... We're slowly running out of time...we still have a lot of milk, water, food to unload and all the heavy equipment from the cargo hold.
Update: we apparently got to Jubany but the waves were even worse there so the captain decided to go back to the Admirality Bay. I have mostly been asleep during that time.
Day three: we were supposed to have a good weather slot at around 3am, so we waited until midnight and started preparing the fruits and vegetables to be unloaded. In the end, as soon as the ship anchored, the wind started picking up again. We've got 48 hours left... My sleeping cycles are getting totally messed up.
2011/10/29 - We're finally in Argentina! It took us far too long to cross the Atlantic. Out of those 19 days, most were really bad - stormy. Right after we've crossed the Equator the weather turned really bad and we had almost no rest. Even right now (I'm writing this when we're still a few hours away from the port) the ship is still moving in all directions. At least the sea is calming down now, it's sunny, although still a bit windy. I've made some movies from the bridge during the storm and will try to upload them to youtube later. Those stormy days were really wasted - the best one could do was to lie down and read. I'm generally disappointed - I kind of hoped we'd see more birds and sea mammals - tough luck. We've seen whales twice after leaving Las Palmas, some stray fur seals and dolphins once or twice but it was impossible to take any photos.
Las Palmas itself didn't change much from the last time I was there. It's a typical tourist city with lots of small shops selling random stuff only tourists would buy (really random electronics for instance), small restaurants and a pretty nice beach (with wireless, woohoo!). We had enough time to go off the main streets too to see the life tourists aren't supposed to see and had a coffee in a bar targeted at locals. That part looked more like a real city - it was a lot dirtier too. In the end we stayed overnight in the port which also gave me a chance to do some jogging, one of the things I started to miss on the ship. We also had a chance to do some free internet browsing on the ship - there are ferries leaving from this port and a nearby one had free wireless which we managed to use for a while until it left. It had to be a funny sight - 5 guys with laptops aiming at the huge ship. Some people from the ferry even made photos
The Equator crossing was pretty fun, also for the people who crossed the first time. There were the usual tortures and tests like I had to go through 6 years ago - drinking some horrible mixtures based on tabasco and ketchup, the tunnel (photo below) and lots of general abuse from the devils. It was quite fun seeing those guys (and girls) soaked in ketchup and strawberry sauce struggling through the tunnel. The new guys got their diplomas, of course. After the initiation we had a barbecue and a lengthy party. I guess I could say this was the only interesting day during the whole Atlantic crossing :(
2011/10/10 - And so we've left. It took us quite a few hours to load everything onto the ship - all the food, tools, work clothes and loads and loads of stuff you'd never believe might be handy in the Antarctic. In the end there was no need to rush. We had to stay in Gdynia until the 15:00 on the 30th, until some parts for ship repairs got delivered. Baltic was really great - the first two days were mostly windless and the sea was very calm. We were in mobile phone range most of the time so it didn't really feel like we were leaving Europe for real. But after passing La Manche it finally got quiet - all phones were out of range and there were few ships in sight. The sea, however, did not remain quiet.
For a few days we had a really nasty side wave, so the ship kept moving to the sides. Some of us got pretty sick, it was impossible to do any reading, the best remedy was to lie in bed with your eyes closed (booooring). Then it got calmer again and we got a back wave that kept pushing us towards Las Palmas.
I am slowly getting used to the way the ship works - the constant engine noise, the waves, the dining hours and rare sights of sea mammals - so far we've seen some dolphins and whales. The shift working on the bridge always announce when the sea a whale so there's a chance you may see one if you hurry up and get out of the cabin. At the moment we're better off out of them anyways - it's getting warmer every day now...
We're now in Las Palmas for a few hours. Last chance to get in touch, read the emails and make a blog entry for a while. Next stop: Mar del Plata, probably around the beginning of November.
2011/09/26 - I think I started thinking about going to Arctowski for the
second time one or two years ago. It took a while until I have made up my mind
about this. Finally, in February 2011 I have decided to wrap my life up in Warsaw,
and sign up for another expedition.
And so here I am - still not fully packed, with a lengthy shopping list of items that are absolutely essential (which I have been neglecting for too long ;) and a lot of things to check, prepare, clean up and pack. The ship leaves in 3 days - no reason to panic. Yet :)
Stay tuned for more updates starting mid November :)
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