My landing at Horseshoe Island
Every day during my Antarctic Circle expedition started with a delightful breakfast aboard the MH Minerva. After getting stuffed and then changing into my “landing” clothes, I went downstairs to Basecamp, located on the third floor to board the zodiacs. By 8:30 am we were cruising through the frigid waters, headed for land!.
On this day we did a landing on Horseshoe Island, located in the entrance of Square Bay, along the west coast of Graham Land, in Marguerite Bay! This is one of the southernmost points that expedition ships travel, and since my voyage was a 14-day Antarctic Circle trip, we were lucky to experience is lesser-visited area. Since the weather was nice and winds were calm, we had almost three hours to walk around and explore. We had many things to see on this island!.
First, at the north-western end of the island we visited Station Y, also known as Horseshoe Base, an inactive British research station from the late 1950s designated a Historic Site by the United Kingdom. Very well preserved, we peered through the windows and imagined how the men must have spent their time here.
Second, we saw very cool metamorphic rocks, mostly gneisses, which frequently have a banded appearance. We also saw some rocks of volcanic origin mostly basaltic lavas and pyroclastic rocks. There are bright green copper ore cracks in these rocks.
Third, and for me the best part, Adelie penguins! These penguins appear only in Antarctica and are one of the most common penguins found in the south of the Peninsula. They have a distinctive white ring around the blue eyes. They are small to medium-sized (about 50 cm tall). They feed mainly on shrimp, silverfish, squid and crustaceans.
And last, but not least… a very lazy & sleepy crabeater seal, which is a true seal (earless).
Although we mostly see them sunbathing and raising their babies on land, these seals are very active animals. They are carnivorous and eat fish, squid or krill and they spend much of their time under the sea ice trying to catch their prey underwater.
A little bit before noon, after spending three hours ashore, we went back to the ship for lunch time and to warm up.