The seals may have been surprised, too, come to think of it.
After lunch, we prepared to visit Carvajal, a former British Antarctic Survey station that was transferred to Chile in 1984. It hadn’t been used in 14 years, though, so the expedition team had no reason to expect it would be manned now. Alex explained how part of his job is to make contact with manned stations the day before we hope to land there, to make sure they’re okay with having us as visitors and so they are expecting us.
But this day, since they thought it was vacant, the Quark team went ahead in their zodiacs to scope out the landing site ahead of bringing the passengers up, as usual, and they were surprised to find a group of about 10 Chileans working there. The Chileans were also pretty surprised to see them, since no one else had stopped there this season. (I can’t remember if they said they’d seen any other ships go by or not, but for sure none had stopped.) They were there to do repairs and maintenance on the buildings to get them ready to use as a research station again.
Despite having no advance notice, and possibly because they hadn’t seen other people since they got there in November, they were very welcoming towards us.
Here’s the spot where we landed. This was the rough landing spot I mentioned the other day…the zodiac was bobbing up and down by a foot or so in the water and we had to step out onto some large rocks and climb up a few big wet rocks. The Quark team and the Chileans stationed themselves along the path to give us a hand if we needed it. You can also see the bags (in the foreground here) where we put our lifejackets once we were on land.
Fur seals everywhere! Dozens of them!
What we looked like taking photos of them all.
The first elephant seal we’d seen. They open their mouths not to yawn but to bare their teeth, just so you know.
The blue bins stored a variety of things, including human waste. Even the people living on Antarctica must bring everything out with them.
The are the largest seals (in fact this one isn’t even a full-grown adult–he will likely still double in size), and their name refers to their trunk-like noses. Although it totally fits their massive size, too.
Parasites live in their noses for their whole lives, so they always have what looks like a runny nose as they try to expel them.
The hikers heading up a glacier.
More elephant seals at the base of the glacier. This was quite a ways from the water. I was pretty impressed that these seals can move well enough on land to get this far inland.
At the top of the glacier, remnants of a plane crash.
There’s the baby again with the others.
Dozens more fur seals were hanging out at the base of the glacier.
After this landing, we were back on the ship having our daily re-cap in the main lounge when suddenly one of the team brought in the Chileans!
They had wanted a tour of our ship. Everyone gave them a very warm welcome (there was lots of clapping and cheering), and one of them gave a short speech in Spanish (which was translated for us) thanking us for visiting. Several people wanted to take photos with them. Quark also gave them a couple crates of fresh produce, which they hadn’t had since November.
And then we had dinner and sailed into a hurricane. I’ll make that a separate post, since this is already so long.