King penguins

Farthest south!


Day 8 - Iceberg B-15


     This journal is constructed as one web page for each day of my journey, including the arrival day in Auckland, and the final two days, which I spent in Hobart.  I have tried to keep the picture images of a reasonable size for easy web page loading.  To see a much larger view of (practically) any image, just left-click on the photo.

     Because we were at Cape Adare so late yesterday, there was no wake-up call on the PA this morning.  Still, I managed to get up just before breakfast closed down.  While our lunches and dinners are all sit down affairs with menus, the breakfasts are buffets, and we cycle through two different versions.

     It was a beautiful day traveling down the coastline, alongside the Transantarctic mountains.  The sky is clear and the sea is calm.  It was a good day for hanging out on the bridge and just taking in the sights.

Panorama of the Antarctic coast.
     In the late afternoon we did a tour of the helicopters, and reviewed the procedure that will be followed when we use them, which may be in just another day!  By 6 p.m. we had great views of the Drygalski Ice Tongue (the part of a glacier that extends over the water) and the behemoth Iceberg B-15.  The iceberg broke off the Ross Ice Shelf a few years ago.  Initially, it was as large as the Grand Canyon, but bits and pieces have broken off over the years.  It is still enormous and drifting slowly about in the Ross Sea.  It had been heading towards Drygalski for a while, and many speculated that there would be a collision.  But, it appeared that B-15 was hung up on the ocean floor, a mere three miles from the ice tongue.  We cruised into this gap and then spent the entire next night circumnavigating the iceberg.  Some months after this trip, there was a collision and the end of the ice tongue has broken off - the picture below is one of the last to show what it looked like!

     The main problem that B-15 is causing (and, that is the iceberg in my page borders - top and bottom) is that it is trapping ice behind it, between McMurdo and the open sea.  Usually, at the onset of summer, the ice in McMurdo breaks up and blows out to sea, leaving the waters navigable, as indeed Scott and Shackleton did in the early 1900s.  But, now, the ice isn't blowing out to sea and is getting a fresh dose every winter, which makes it harder to break up and dissipate the next year.  Our path was to follow the north side of the iceberg for its many hundred miles and then duck into McMurdo Sound near Ross Island.  Of course, the Khlebnikov is an icebreaker, so it is built for dealing with these conditions.

Mt. Melbourne. The helicopters used for scouting. Dennis and Iceberg B-15.

A pod of Orcas. Orcas in front of Drygalski Ice Tongue. Orcas.
     During dinner, we had a pod of Orcas swimming near the ship.  The captain had the ship steer a wide arc to stay close to the whales, as we were all soon on deck, or on the bridge, enjoying the sight.

     Follow the "Next" and "Back" links to go from page to page.  Or, return to the "Antarctica Home Page" and link to any day from the "Daily Logs" shown there.  If you have any comments, e-mail me to me at:  dfoster<at>kaibabjournal<dot>com.  Please put “Antarctica” in the subject category.

Return to Antarctica Home Page