We started our day with a wakeup call at 6:30 a.m. to prepare for a Zodiac cruise around Cierva Cove. As we took off from the ship, we headed towards three humpback whales logging in the water. Our mentor, Jamie, was hoping for the whales to fluke, which we learned was important for identifying them. Their flukes are like our fingerprints. We took off from the whales, allowing these incredible animals to lazily feed. We then began exploring icebergs sculpted by wind, precipitation, and the rotation of the icebergs in the water. We whipped around to our favorite sighting–a colony of chinstrap penguins on lichen-covered rocks!
After the Zodiac cruise, we listened to Jess’s talk about life on sea ice and her research on Weddell seals. We were fascinated to learn how researchers weigh the pups, but we were most captivated by details about everyday life in severe conditions.
Later, we shuttled to Cuverville Island, where we enjoyed observing another colony of gentoo penguins. They were nesting on snow due to late snowfall conditions. To create appropriate nesting, defecation was plentiful and so was the smell! Skuas were breeding and trying to feed off penguin eggs and chicks.
Upon returning to the ship, we listened to another lecture from an expert on climate change. It was interesting to learn how the chemistry of seashells is used to record the planet’s climate history. This lecture was followed by dinner, and we enjoyed dramatic views of Port Lockroy and the surrounding jagged landscape.