Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Antarctica Part 11 - Whales, a Final Gift from God!

When we booked this trip, we were told to go in November if we wanted to see penguins or February if we wanted to see whales. I definitely wanted to see the penguins, so we went in November.  The penguins come to Antarctica in the summer to mate and have their babies. Whales have their babies in warmer waters and come to Antarctica in the summer to feed because the water is teeming with marine life. So I was not expecting to see whales on this trip.
We left Antarctic waters and headed back to the Drake Passage. I was having problems with asthma so I stayed in bed and did not go to breakfast. Suddenly, I heard an announcement, “There are humpbacked whales on the port side.”
 I immediately jumped out of bed, dressed, and ran on deck. All the passengers were crowded at the windows on the port side.  I went to the starboard side. I was the only one at the window, forlornly thinking, “I missed my opportunity!” Then one of the crew came over to me and said, “Do you see them?” “No,” I answered.  “They are right in front of you,” she said.  Then a grey back appeared, and then two backs, and then a tail fluke!  They were fifteen feet in front of my window, two of them! I asked the crew member, “How can you tell where they are?”  She said, “Look for their bubbles.”
I came to Antarctica to see three things, penguins, blue icebergs, and whales. I had seen two out of three and did not expect to see the whales, but God gave me this final gift! What a blessing!
The whales do not show up well on our pictures. They are the same color as the water, gray. Sometimes it is easier to see their spouts. I did put one token picture of a whale in this post. If you look closely at the center of the picture you will see its dark gray back.
I decided to add pictures of our clothing here. In my post of December 10, 2012 I mentioned stumbling around in the snow. Imagine a Floridian bundled up in three layers of warm clothes – a thermal base (what used to be called long underwear), a layer of warm down or fleece, and an outer waterproof layer. Add some thick bulky knee-high boots. Now put that Floridian in twelve inches of snow! CLUMSY! At first it took half an hour for Al and I to put all these clothes on, but by the last excursion, I could do it in ten minutes! Here’s a picture of me in my army/navy tactical head gear and one of me sitting on the snow step. The crew members had to go ashore ahead of us to carve steps for us. Since it is forbidden to disturb the environment, they would usually carve out two or three steps that were twelve to eighteen inches in height. Now that was an awkward sight, me trying to climb up an eighteen inch step in those bulky clothes! Thanks goodness they had men to help us up and down!  We had to step up eighteen inches to get out of the zodiac boats, too! Finally there is a picture of fellow passengers hiking up a hill on a beautiful sunny day.
I posted a picture of Al goofing off in the Galapagos. Well, he didn’t behave any better on this trip. So here’s a picture of him goofing off in Ushaia, Argentina, as we wait to board our cruise ship!

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