Oh yeah, the nature.

Oh yeah, the nature.

Beyond my post on first arriving here, I haven’t commented much on Antarctica itself. While McMurdo lacks the ‘extreme factor’ of the South Pole proper, there is a lot of stunning natural beauty around.

Our daily drive to work takes us along the permanent ice shelf, with the currently frozen sea ice to one side and the active volcano Mt. Erebus on the other. The view changes hourly, dependent on how the sunlight hits the ice and how the wind sweeps across it. The horizon is vast, and my trusty iPhone camera (or my lack of camera skills) never quite captures the feeling.

Aside from the work and the often breath-taking views along the daily drive, the highlights of being in Antarctica so far for me have been a hiking tour of the pressure ridges and the rare animal sighting. Weddel seals are often seen lounging along the pressure ridge (where the ice shelf and sea ice meet and melt pools allow them access to the surface), enjoying the sunshine. The pressure ridge tour allowed us to get a closer look at them. Again, my camera wasn’t adequate, but Jon was on this tour with me and took some excellent photos.

A Weddel seal lounging in the sun along the pressure ridges. Photo by Jon.
A Weddel seal mom and pup. Photo by Jon.

My iPhone was surprisingly good at capturing some of the scenery of the Ice itself as I randomly snapped photos. It wasn’t that great at handling the cold though, as it powered down and needed re-warming in my pocket three times during the ~2 hour hike. Below is a gallery of some of the best shots.

Wildlife also has made some surprising appearances out by LDB. First, a relatively young Weddel seal somehow found its way out to our camp! We were all a bit worried about it finding its way back to the water.

A Weddel seal that found its way to LDB Photo by Jon.

Jon also got a video of the seal scooting along.

More recently, an Emperor penguin found its way to LDB! This is a substantially more rare occurance; there are people here who have gone through several seasons without ever seeing an Emperor penguin.

A closeup of the Emperor penguin that came by LDB (lovingly named George). Photo by Jon.

Here’s a video Ed took showing the ‘faster’ method the penguin has for getting around:

And again, a video by Jon, highlighting the penguin’s interesting squawking: