3 December, 2001
Dec 3rd- Cape Royds-- Part Two
Our trip to Cape Royds took over an hour. Maggie and I rode on a sled that was attached to the snowmobile. I was facing away from the direction in which we were moving so that I wouldn't have the wind in my face. Little did I know that by the time we reached our destination, the whole back of my parka was covered in snow! Everyone had to brush me off.
We got off of the snowmobile and headed up a slope. We reached the top and my jaw just dropped -- Shackleton's hut in the foreground with an Adelie penguin rookery behind it! I couldn't believe my eyes. This was something I had longed to see, and it was right there in front of me!
At first the penguins were hard to distinguish from the rocks because they looked like black spots. As we walked closer, they were easier to see. There were tons of them! We were only able to go up to a certain point before we saw a sign that said, "Site of Special Scientific Interest" (SSSI). This is an area that is marked off for scientific purposes only. Scientists and environmentalists want the penguin rookeries to remain as untouched by humans as possible. They want to preserve the penguins' natural way of life. This is very important! Even though I wish I could have gotten closer, I completely understand and agree with this mandate.
Watching the penguins in their natural setting was incredible. Adelies breed in the Antarctic summer. They make nests out of little pebbles that they carry in their beaks one by one. It is on these nests that the penguins sit on their eggs. Adelie penguins eat Antarctic and ice krill. Krill are shrimp-like organisms that are the basis for the Antarctic food chain. During the winter, Adelies stay in groups out at sea on pack ice and icebergs.
We spent so much time just sitting on the rocks watching and listening to the penguins. A few times one would stand up, and I could see an egg beneath it. Every so often, some of the penguins would leave the rookery and head out to the sea ice. This was funny to watch. When they would come upon a sea ice crack, they would hop over it! One time, a little Adelie missed and fell in. He popped back up so quickly! Do you think he was cold?
After a few hours at Cape Royds, we decided to head back home. We stopped a few times to take pictures. Once again I got great views of the Barnes Glacier. I also saw a living creature up close that I hadn't seen here yet. Can you guess what it was? I'll tell you tomorrow and show you the pictures too!
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