For the second half of our trip, we move north through the peninsula islands of Danco and Cuverville, with continent landings at Neko and Orne Harbours. The weather continues to hold and we are fortunate to have bright sunshine and very little wind. It makes for easy work setting out the rest of our camera array (it’s all so much easier when the wind isn’t blowing at 40 knots), and great views of the penguins (mostly gentoo and chinstrap towards this end of the peninsula).
Many of this season’s penguin chicks are getting ready to fledge, so are quite big by this stage. The parents are making daily trips to sea catching krill, and returning to feed hungry chicks. Having identified their offspring, a food chase ensues; penguin pandemonium as the chick hurtles down the beach after the parent. A packet of krill, held in the crop while the parent swims back to the colony, is the regurgitated reward for the persistent chick.
On our last day on the peninsula before we take the journey across the Drake Passage back port in Ushuaia, we encounter what turn out to be two extremely curious humpback whales. They approach us, and spend a good couple of hours just checking out the strange looking people in the zodiacs, spy-hopping, diving under the boats, and at one stage even nudging the boats along. We spend the time drifting with the engine cut, completely spell-bound at the size and control of these extremely graceful marine mammals. It’s a fitting end to our trip, and we head back to Ushuaia, where Ben heads back to the UK. Gemma, an MSc student from the University of Southampton will join Tom for the final trip of the season.
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