©Wolfgang Kaehler

Half Moon and King George Island

If the Drake Passage is the loneliest place on Earth, Half Moon Island is the most beautiful.  Half Moon and Livingston Islands, draped in glistening white glaciers, rise from the sea like a pair of brides.  I have never seen a white so bold, so pure, so sincere.  Along the shore, where the glaciers lick the sea, turquoise crystals fringe the ice like crystal beads on silky white  veils.  With the wind whipping at 40 knots, we are unable to land.  I am disappointed to miss my favorite island, but the striking view alone is worth the journey.
Now we sail south towards King George Island to visit scientific research stations.  Arriving at Arctowski, a Polish scientific research station, I am surprised by some autumn-like colors — rich rust-colored lichens paint the volcanic rocks.  Word is that our unplanned visit is a well-received  surprise for the scientists who must feel so isolated and pleased to receive fresh vegetables and fruits from the ship.  We motor in zodiacs to the black volcanic beach.
On shore Adelie penguins scamper over rocks to come eye the visitors.  Obviously curious, they watch us while we watch them.  With a colony up on a bluff, the penguins come and go from the sea, sometimes reclining on the beach for a rest before returning to the nest to relieve their mates of incubation duty.  Large, brown skuas swoop above the colony, preparing to snatch  unguarded eggs.  An elephant and leopard seal, swimming in the bay, know that meals await them when the penguins dive into the sea to go feed.  It is the opportunity to observe penguins, seals, seabirds and whales in their remote and unique  habitat that keeps Wolf coming back to Antarctica.  It is this window into the natural world — the opportunity to experience life in  one of the greatest wildlife havens — that keeps him spellbound.

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