Brown Bluff

Brown Bluff, at the apex of the continental Antarctic Peninsula, gave us our chance to step onto the continent itself. The site was named "Brown Bluff" because of its steep slopes and brown-to-black hyaloclastite. For you curious ones, Wikipedia says: "Hyaloclastite is a hydrated tuff-like breccia rich in black volcanic glass, formed during volcanic eruptions under water, under ice or where subaerial flows reach the sea or other bodies of water." More info is up to you! Again, a wet landing, and loads of penguins.

One of our naturalists, Welshman Ian Bullock, found the body of a Adélie penguin chick who presumedly died of starvation the night before. Ian explained in facinating detail how remarkable are the various parts of an Adélie penguin. The chick's grey downy coat traps heat and keeps the chick warm.

  

Feathers cover the legs and most of the beak for the same reason. The wings of this flightless bird are designed for powerful swimming, hence they have strong bones. A flying bird, like the predator skua who has air-filled bones for flying, has to stay away from a penguin wing slap. Adult feathers hold the body's heat. The feet are webbed for swimming, pitted for good traction on rocks, and toenails dig into ice, soil and rock.

    

Lots of chicks in various stages of becoming adults amid lots of ice.

 

A foray into the beginning of the ice in the Weddell Sea

The Weddell Sea's ice trapped Shackleton's Endurance and crew for 15 months. The ice pack's gyre carried the ship and then the stranded men a few hundred miles to the west and then about 300 miles north, when they embarked in three lifeboats to Elephant Island. We only poked our bow a few miles into the ice.