Damoy Point and Jougla Point, Antarctica: We awake this morning to more snow falling. Large flakes and as we will find out, it just keeps increasing throughout the morning. Some wind but very flat water in this bay. We are at Damoy Point just north of the Antarctic Circle. We see lots of Gentoo penguins swimming and “porpoising” (jumping out of the water like a porpoise). Once we land, again a wet landing, we walk along the stony beach to see more Gentoo penguins. It’s fun just to stand and watch these creatures waddle along and then just flop down. But then they hit the water and what a difference, swimming and diving with grace and speed. You can easily see that these birds were not meant to fly… they were meant to swim.
Back on the shoreline, there is a snow “cliff” about twelve feet high. So
, in order for us to climb up to the penguin rookeries, we need to scale these “cliffs”. Thank goodness the exploration team from the ship took the first Zodiacs out to the landing and shoveled a path up the cliff. They brought iron grill sections out and built stairs up the snowbank. All this, of course, is reversed when we leave so there is no sign of us ever being here.
Up at the top of the hill there are three Gentoo penguin rookeries with hundreds of pairs of penguins. They make their nests of stone high up on the hills so the wind will blow the snow clear of the nests, but the stones come from down on the shore. So it’s quite the job to waddle down to the shoreline, pick up a stone and carry it back up to the top of the hill… again and again.
Just down the hill from these nesting sites is the Damoy Hut, designated at an Historic Site and Monument. It’s a small hit built in 1975 by the British Antarctic Survey to support planes landing on the glacier. British supply planes would land here and transfer freight to boats which would then sail south to the British Research stations.
The British started direct flights in 1993 so the hut was made an historic site. It is still stocked as it was when abandoned.
We do find a few eggs that the Skua have plucked out of the penguin nest when mom wasn’t looking. The Skua is a large Antarctic bird that is known for only two things: stealing penguin eggs and eating penguin chicks! Wow. How would you like that reputation? So, the penguins need to keep a constant watch for these sneaking little thieves.
We head back to the ship for some lunch and warmth. It’s amazing that we have been out in twenty-eight-degree weather with wind blowing and snow falling, and we are not a bit cold. It just shows that dressing right is the secret. This morning has absolutely been fantastic winter wonderland!
After lunch we move the ship to another nearby place called Jougla Point.