Lester and Rosemary Moeller, St. Lawrence, just returned from a three-week expedition to Antarctica. They sailed on the MV Fram of Norway from February 20 until March 11, with many days completely at sea and eight landings on the South Shetland Islands, the Antarctica Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. They experienced uncommonly smooth sailing weather for most of the trip, clear skies frequently and mild temperatures for the Antarctica Summer (28-38 degrees F).
In spite of a total absence of towns, B&B’s or any accommodations other than science stations, they intensely enjoyed the flocks, pods and colonies of penguins, whales, seals, albatross and numerous other wildlife groups.
Rosemary was particularly interested in the fossil records of millions of years of exposed sedimentary rocks, and the birds. It is against international treaty to interfere by touching any native species, but when she stood still and didn’t speak for a minute(!), penguins would come right up and study the big, flightless biped in the bright blue jacket (aka Rosemary or Lester).
Landings involved special boots and waterproof clothing for getting from the inflatable boats to the shore. Getting into the inflatable boats meant going out on a gangplank on the second deck and stepping into the inflatable rafts while the frozen seas were rocking the ship and boats. It was worth it. The salty spray was delicious, the clean air was invigorating and the whales and leopard seals kept their distance, unlike the skua that tried to land on Lester’s head and take his hat.
Different bird species have rookeries on different islands and bays, so each landing meant new opportunities for exploration. Science stations at Port Lockroy and Grytviken, South Georgia are only staffed in the summer but it is a beautiful season to just hike around the glaciers and be in awe of the wealth of wildlife and rugged landscape.
The expedition was staffed from Chili, Germany, Norway, Argentina, Switzerland, Philipines and United States. There were onboard specialists in ornithology, photography, botany, marine biology and glaciology. All presentations were in English and German, but it was an international group of tourists from every continent.