- I was here: about 1 hour during the morning of the third day of the cruise, 12/27/2007.
- My score: 3/5.
South Shetland Islands archipelago is the northernmost region of Antarctica, about 120 km north of the continental shelf. There are 11 main islands and at least 20 smaller ones.
Half Moon Island is one of these minor islands, and it was the first landing on my cruise to Antarctica. We carried it out on the 3rd day in the morning, being that third day the first one that we saw land after two days of agonizing dizziness navigating the Drake Strait.
Half Moon Island is very small, just 1.7 km² (the approximate size of Monaco or the exact half of Central Park in New York City). Its shape, obviously half moon like, is due to the eroded caldera of a volcano, similar to the most famous and closest Deception Island. It was discovered in 1822 by seal hunters; It is located between Livingston and Greenwich Islands.
It is a first approach to the beautiful, unique and at the same time bleak landscape that we have come to see, a new world in white, black and gray, and hopefully some blue sky. In Antarctica even animals are made in grayscale, except for some brush strokes of color. In fact, we will disembark here for the presence of a colony of chinstrap penguins:
- They are adorable black and white penguins, named for a black line under their beak, as a chinstrap.
- They measure approximately 50 cm high, although they can exceed 70 cm, and weigh 3 to 5 kg.
The truth is that observing animals as adorable as penguins for the first time causes a strange feeling of well-being. Seeing them so cute, with their perfect separation of black and white areas, so incredibly agile in the water, where they jump like if they were dolphins, and so incredibly duck on land, they are nice and adorable.
The nests of Arctic terns are also relevant, we may see some Gentoo penguin (we barely saw a couple of them), and of course, seagulls, in particular the species called Dominican or Cook, very common in the southern hemisphere and that little differs, at least to my eyes, from a common seagull from the northern hemisphere; one of its varieties, the Dominicanus Austrinus only exists in Antarctica.
We may also see some whale, and some in our group sighted a small group of seals.
There is an Argentine summer scientific base, the Cámara Base.
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