Peninsula Antarctica

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Ben and Tom continue their journey along the Antarctic Peninsula, setting up new time-lapse cameras The first few days of landings have been spectacular.  Our first landing was at Booth Island.  We were deposited by zodiac for a 3 hour landing, dropped off on shore with a couple of barrels of safety kit, and left to our own devices.  On the zodiac ride in, we passed a Minke whale, and a couple of crab-eater seals hauled out on an ice flow. Minkes are rarely curious enough to come for a close look at boats, and tend to stay well clear – maybe they were intrigued by the orange hats?  After landing we made a quick recce off the colonies of gentoo and chinstrap penguins, we chose two locations for our first cameras of the 2012 season.  Overcast, lightly snowing with a temperature of about -3 degrees C, this was a tremendous start to our trip. As we steam through the Lemaire channel towards the southern part of the Peninsula, we move into especially interesting area for us.  It represents one of the main battlegrounds between penguin species.  More generalist in nature and slight larger bodied, gentoo penguins are starting to exploit the more southern reaches of the peninsula and its islands as climate warming takes effect, often at the expense of more ice-obligate Adelie penguins. Over the next couple of days we land at two sites a day, at places including Petermann Island, the Yalours Islands, Port Lockroy and Vernadsky.  The wind has died away to nothing, and we are lucky to have bright sunshine, and sub zero temperatures.  Perfect weather for us.  At each site, we deploy time-lapse cameras, and collect feathers from which DNA analysis will be carried out back in London.  At Port Lockroy, where there is a British base and historic site, we visit a camera that has been placed and maintained by the Antarctic Heritage Trust.  The camera has worked perfectly, showing gentoo colony dynamics over the months of January and February.  A quick battery change, and the camera is set to run through the winter.  The girls at the base treat us to a nice cup of tea, and some of their precious supply of biscuits.  Surely this is how Antarctic field work should be done? That evening, we move further north into the aptly named Paradise Bay. Read 'Peninsula Antarctica continued'

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