2012 began with a wake-up call from Antarctic Dream, who wanted to visit in the morning, somewhat earlier than planned. We jumped out of bed, some feeling fresher than others after the New Year’s Eve celebrations, to get the rocks scrubbed and shop prepared, before joining the passengers on board for an early lunch. After lunch, Cat, Claire and Ylva had the chance to enjoy the sunshine at Jougla Point. It was a great opportunity to see our island from a different perspective and also to see the giant whale skeleton and the chicks in the shag colony.
There was great excitement back at Port Lockroy as Michael spotted our first leopard seal of the season, relaxing on an ice floe in the bay. After the Antarctic Dream visitors had left, the sun was still shining. The team wasted no time in getting into their swimming costumes and taking a refreshing New Year’s Day plunge.
On Monday, we had the rare combination of sunshine and no ship visits, so we were able to make some good progress with the painting of Bransfield House. Michael spent some time underneath the workshop, getting covered in penguin poo (whilst wearing Claire’s overalls), and came to the conclusion that a large amount of the floor is rotten. He then proceeded to rip it up and has spent most of the week replacing it. Claire has also been in the workshop (carefully avoiding the holes in the floor and now wearing Ylva’s overalls) and has been painting the walls as the first step in the transformation from working workshop to museum workshop.
We have had several yacht visits this week. On Tuesday, Jerome Poncet arrived with the Golden Fleece team aboard the Hanse Hansson. Jerome is an Antarctic legend and has accompanied the BBC for a lot of their Antarctic filming. We also had a visit from National Geographic Explorer, who kindly took Michael, Claire and Cat south for the evening for a shower, dinner and trip down the impressively ice-bound Lemaire Channel.
The good weather has triggered the collapse of much of the ice cliffs around the Back Bay, there have been several huge roars as enormous lumps of ice have crashed into the sea. One even sent a small tidal wave up the beach near the Boatshed. The bay is now filled with lots of beautiful blue ice.
The wildlife is becoming more and more abundant as the summer goes on. We had a great whale moment on Wednesday as a couple of minkes came really close to the Chains Landing. The penguin chicks are getting fatter (and so are the skuas). The leopard seal put on a good show down by the Chains Landing on Friday, devouring several penguins with great enthusiasm right in front of lots of visitors.
On Saturday, the Fram brought us Anja, the newest member of our team. Anja usually works as Expedition Leader on the Fram, but is spending some time at Lockroy to get an insight in to how things work here. We soon had her putting her German efficiency to good use in the shop and are looking forward to having her with us for the next 9 days.