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8 March, 2000

Antarctic Peninsula; Arrive at Palmer

Question 18: What is Hero Inlet in front of the station named for?

I woke up this morning and felt that something was different. The boat was level and I wasn't rolling from side to side!!!!! Tremendous! We are now well inside the Antarctic Peninsula. We will get to Palmer this afternoon. I checked outside and felt like I had stepped into a Disney film!

There were Adelie penguins sitting on rocks in the distance while whole rafts of Gentoo penguins swam nearer the ship, some porpoising in and out of the water. The one Chinstrap penguin I saw was so close I didn't need my binoculars. There were several pairs of humpback whales visible during just the first hour I was out on deck, and there were seals of many kinds both in the water and hauled out on rocks. Later in the afternoon, we saw our first (and hopefully closest) leopard seal lounging on a small, flat iceberg. They have a very distinctive slinky shape. Terns, skuas, albatross, and all sorts of petrels are everywhere.

The weather is calm and above freezing. We are not lucky enough to have a bright sunny day but the first several hundred feet of the huge, black, glacial mountains coming out of the sea are visible. At a distance, we can also see the upper sections of the peaks peeking through, touched by sunlight. They shine like beacons. There are ghostly blue icebergs floating around with beautiful wave-formed patterns on them, and glaciers are everywhere. When we made the final turn around the south end of Anvers Island heading towards the west, I could barely make out the station on its tiny rock peninsula, dwarfed by the glacier covering the island. Everyone on the station seemed to be outside to meet us. Most of them were there to help moor the ship (line handling). There is a very small dock on Hero Inlet, just enough to serve as a platform to get people and supplies off the ship. There are two huge rubber bumpers on the dock that the ship is snugged up against. The bow and stern lines are attached to massive hooks in the rocky shoreline. The deck crew and mates from the Gould threw over thin, weighted ropes to the station line handlers. They are connected to the thick ropes used to moor the ship. The line handlers pull the ropes to shore hand over hand and loop them over the hooks. Lines are tightened on the ship once all six lines are attached. Quite a production!

We went on shore after a passenger briefing telling us where everyone would eat (departing passengers on station, cruise passengers on board ship), where visitors could go (hike up the glacier or over the trolley to Bonaparte Point) and when we could move into our rooms (3 pm). The crane on the Gould began moving luggage, vans and crates off the ship as soon as we were moored. Our luggage got piled into a cargo net for its trip to shore. Once on shore, the station uses a mixture of front end loaders and fork lifts to move anything and everything.

Our science group meets tomorrow at 8 am to get started!

Answer 17: All penguins except for the King and Emperor species incubate their eggs by lying belly down on them, warming them with their brood patch (Moss, 1988). The Emperor penguin, which lays its egg and broods its young during the winter on ice, incubates its egg balanced on top of its feet and tucked under a loose fold of skin. The King penguin, a close relative, breeds on subantarctic islands and is also a stand-up parent.

Wave-etched iceberg.

Joanna Hubbard in the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Anvers Island with Palmer Station in front of Marr Glacier.

R.V. Gould off-loading cargo onto the Palmer dock.

Line handlers pulling in a mooring rope.

Approaching the dock on the R.V. Gould.

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