January 5: Second Landing – Port Lockroy

Port Lockroy is special in many ways. It is one of the few remaining British outposts in the area [1]. And it has one of the two bars in Antarctica [2], along with a post office and the largest gift shop in Antarctica [3]. So my first job after landing is to go shopping in Antarctica, odd as that may sound [4].

Station A from the sea

Very popular with the locals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antarctica's only shoping mall

Nazis beware!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following that, I tour the area. Or at least, I tour as much as the penguins will allow. You see, they have the right of way here, and are not shy about asserting it. They have made nests under the main building, surrounding the storage shed, and across the old whaler’s station. They salute the Royal standard with as much solemnity as they can muster [5], and crowd around the newcomers while decrying the low standards of today’s tourists.

A composite whale skeleton

Pebble stealing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding the kids

"I swear, after this semester, you are out of here!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it is just a short Zodiak ride to Jougla Point, where the historical society has put together a composite whale skeleton [7], which competes for attention with the inevitable Gentoo colony and a flock of Blue-eyed Shags [7]. These birds look like flying penguins, with black bodies and white underbellies [8] and long necks. Like the Gentoo, they feast on krill and fish, and so live quite happily beside the Gentoo.

"Stay away from my kids!"

A Snowy Sheathbill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less welcome in the area (to the penguins, at least) is a snowy sheathbill. A near relative of the skua, the sheathbill likes to sneak in during feeding time and steal the “krill packet” from the parent before the chick can get to it. Failing that, they are not averse to stealing a chick or an egg. As you might expect, the penguins give the sheathbill a rather hairy eyeball whenever they wander by. After an hour or so, we are summoned back to the ship. And, rather like the reluctant chick who follow their parents back to the nest, we all clamber into the Zodiaks [9] and head for supper. I hope it isn’t krill…

John

[1] Though they have not officially renounced their claim to the area, they are tacitly doing so by ceding stations to other nations.

[2] Sadly, it was closed when we stopped by for a drink.

[3] To make you feel better about spending your money, they point out that all proceeds go to maintaining the museums and historical sites in the area.

[4] And it is no small task. I have 26 postcards (conveniently written the night before) to send, along with four souvenirs to buy [i], and a passport to get stamped [ii].

[5] I.e., none.

[6] That is, one made up of the washed ashore bones from several whales.

[7] Insert the inevitable Aston Powers joke here.

[8] And no doubt create incredible amounts of envy in their Gentoo neighbors as they soar overhead.

[9] With about as much grace as the average penguin, I might add. These boats are made to be rugged, not to be easy to get into.

[i] For me, my mother, my brother, and me. Given the price of most things down here and the effort involved in lugging it back up north and the cost of the postcards, I’m not feeling generous enough to buy anyone else anything else.

[ii] Mainly so I can show it to my mother and say “Neener, neener, neener!” She has wanted to go to Antarctica for almost as long as I have. But I got here first and must rub it in…

3 thoughts on “January 5: Second Landing – Port Lockroy

  1. “Giving a rather hairy eyeball,” wow. Your verbal inventiveness amazes as much as your scholarship. : )
    I’m going to have to start using that one.

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