Merry Christmas From The Lemaire Channel In Antarctica!
(65.08° S, 64.00° W)
Christmas Day was magicial. As we cruised down the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica revealed how spectacular its wilderness could be.
The panorama was a brilliant azure, the sun was beaming down and there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air. The snowy mountain peaks of the peninsula reflected perfectly in the mirrored ocean below. Light sparkled on the top of the flat, calm water. As we sailed on, to our surprise, we were greeted by Father Christmas and his little helpers waving from a passing iceberg! The children on the ship could hardly contain themselves with excitement and rushed to the port side to wave and cheer.
After some present opening and a tasty Christmas brunch we headed further south to the Penola Strait and took Zodiacs to Port Charcot on Booth Island. Port Charcot was first charted by the French Antarctic expedition, under Jean-Baptiste Charcot, and named in memory of his father. In 1904 Charcot established the expedition's winter base in the bay. Booth Island itself was discovered and named by a German expedition under Eduard Dallmann 1873–74, for Oskar Booth or Stanley Booth, both members of the Hamburg Geographical Society at that time.
The Island is one of the few sites on the Antarctic Peninsula where Adélie, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, nest together. We spent time watching the charismatic and curious creatures go about their business. We also spotted Blue-eyed shags feeding their chicks nestled within the penguin colonies. In the water, Sea Lions, Leopard Seals, and Orca (Killer Whales) are all predators of the penguin. On land there are no predators to the adult penguins but they are under constant threat from Skuas, who work in pairs to steal their eggs or snatch their chicks. This was something we witnessed first hand where the penguins were nesting, an unfortunate part of the food chain.