13th of August 2013, King Edward Point:

We’ve just finished watching the films from the other Antarctic bases, and I must say that I am impressed with the quality of all the films!!! Wow!!! Some are really good! And some are really funny!! Bird Island have done a very impressive job indeed and I’ve given them top marks for best film! Unbelievable considering they are only 4 on base! And they didn’t even have a bath! Hahaha!!!  Many of our ideas were also used in other films, which was a bit of a disappointment… I don’t think we’ll win, but we’ve done a good job I think. There are some really good movies on the open category too: BC Rod’s “Last Rat standing” is a beautiful clip of South Georgia’s charismatic fauna (a must see for all ya penguin and seal lovers!);

The last rat standing

South Pole station showed some really fascinating movies of the sky from the south pole   (South Pole); but my absolute favourite is the Vostok music for everyone movie…. It sent shivers down my spine, and I’ll even admit having wet eyes by the end of it… A must see for anyone with a bit of unfrozen soul in them.

The coldest concert

On the sampling front things are not progressing. It’s mid-august now, and I should start capturing larvae now. I keep deploying traps off KEP pier, trying different permutations of bubbletraps, jellyfish traps at different depths, different colours of LED lights and glow sticks, have modified the design of the jellyfish traps adding more weight to the bottom to insure they stand the right way up… all to no avail so far. I keep catching lots of amphipods and shrimps and the like… but no fish larvae…. Which is starting to seriously undermine my confidence.

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On an attempt to forget my failures, last Sunday Rod and I went up to Brown Mountain, a small easily accessible peak suitable for height fearers like me. I had been warned that Rod liked rather daring experiences, but I though the hill would not be too much of a challenge. We put on some snow shoes and off we went, it was a lovely sunny day and the hike was delightful.

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I made to the top rather okay without too much trouble or knees going week. I know it was just a hill compared to the gigantic mountains around, but I was quite proud of myself. It’s not very often I go all the way up mountains, and I felt alright.IMGP5037
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Mount Sugartop (2323m high), with a name like that, even I am temped to give it a go…

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Mount Duse across King Edward Cove, dominating the BAS base (AKA home) in the middle.

After a cookie break we started the descent down the other way of the mountain, just for a change of scenery – Yeah, right! – Looking at the cliffs at either side was now making my knees go slightly weak…

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but I was happy we were just going ahead on the ridge, until there was ridge ahead no more… I cannot describe the shock I was in when I realised we had to go down that 300m or so precipice covered in icy snow…

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in my now self-recognised stupidity I decided to trust Rod and started to go down…. I think it must have been less than 30 metres downhill when I was already down to my knees and could not take a step without having both hand on the snow… and Rod was happily prancing down the 50o slope.

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I was somewhat okay so long as there was knee deep snow, it gave me a false sense of security, but I was not a happy bunny when the snow was so hard one had to kick the snow with the shoes to make a dent to put your feet into. I tried to disguise my impending panic with joking and laughing, but I could not remove from my head the stupidity of my situation. I was not that afraid of falling, I was afraid of mentally blocking and being unable of taking a further step. And realising that there was no other way out of there but going down the slope… … … whether I liked it or not. Somehow I managed to control my fear for most of the way down, except for a bit where the snow was so hard only the very tip of the shoes could get into, and nowhere to put your finger into… no way Jose I was going through THAT!! Back the other way it was, through the very deep snow… Quite a while later we finally reached the bottom… and I felt like kissing the snow!! Hahaha!! I felt adrenaline rushed, but exhilarated, and happy that I had managed to actually go down that slope… There is no way I would do it again, but I was happy I did it.

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The last part of the slope from the bottom:

In any case, we had reached Penguin River, and true to its name, there were Penguins around, loads of them!

It was  a delightful stroll to station after that, dotted around with wonderful examples of the South Georgia wildlife!!

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Amidst Penguin River basin, there is this outcrop, I fancy this must be the rock of “The Leopard Seal King”:

Penguins seem to like queing as much as humans, without apparent reason…

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Now a few piccies for all you Penguin and Seal lovers out there (remember I’m a fish guy!!)

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The rare chinstrap penguin:

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“My name is Strap, Chin Strap”

Now, lets play “Spot the seal” … if you lose you get your leg bitten!!!

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I told you they have teeth!!!

Thou, okay, I’ll admit it, even I go a bit awwwwww with these ones:

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Who said that dinasaurs had gone extinct?? That’s a full size snow spade bigger than my head… Terrifying if you ask me!!

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Lovely pintails… now off to munch on some seal carcasse…

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Yup, there are seagull even down here…

A few pictures to remind us of South Georgia’s past, and “No, those round things are not stones”.

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And the SPECTACULAR return home:

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2 thoughts on “13th of August 2013, King Edward Point:”

  1. your pictures make me feel like I’m really there!!! and those pintails are bigger than I thought!! (or do they just have REALLY big feet?) This blog keeps me going through the looooonnnng school hours, just imagining all the things that all you guys must be seeing!!! it must be so amazing to be there, see all those amazing sights, get weak kneed at going down huge mountains, and then go back to base for a cuppa tea!! and that is a really gruesome thing to see all those carcasses! did it smell bad, or had they all completely rotted? and how close can you get to all those seals and penguins? do you have really good zoom on your camera, or are they not bothered with humans getting quite close to them? and why are those larvae so damn hard to catch? anyway, sorry about all those questions; I get carried away!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for ice fish to swim into those traps!!!

    1. I am really pleased to hear the blog is fun! But dont let it get in between you and your homework, wouldn’t like to be blamed for that! hahaha!
      This place is truly amazing, got a new batch of pictures of the glaciers and the newest addition to KEP: ellie pups!
      The pintails are tiny, they are smaller than very young female mallards, but they do have quite large feet. Will post some more pics of them.
      Anything that dies here, does not last for long: there are hordes of skuas, pintails and other birds lurking around waiting for a feast of fresh meat. Nothing gets wasted.
      I do have a zoom, but it’s not that strong. By wildlife law we cant get any closer than 5m to wildlife, but the penguins and seals couldn’t care less about us. Some of the furseals may bark at you a little bit when walking along the beach, and the ellies yawn to let you know that they are there… and still alive (in case we were a skua or something like that).
      Regarding the larvae, well: they are rare, they are small, they are transparent, they are fragile, everything else in the sea thinks they are delicious, and they are picky… just like every newborn fish.
      But bear with me and watch this space!!!!

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