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Antarctic adventures.

Jean and John Robson were the speakers at the Dumfries Royal Scottish Geographical Society Travellers Club first meeting of 2019.

The subject was In the Footsteps of Shackleton.

The journey took Jean and John on a small Russian vessel to the Antarctic with 80 passengers and leaders to help identify the wildlife and explain the ecology in a busy schedule.

From Fournier Bay to the Falklands the trip was a wonderful opportunity to see wildlife in abundance. With humpback whales bubblenetting, crabeater seals and Gentoo penguins the trip started on a high note.

The penguins were very approachable as they are unused to human contact.

The numbers of travellers to the wilderness of Antarctica are limited and there were few other ships in the area. Excursions by kayak gave an amazing opportunity to see the wildlife, and icebergs too, but these latter not too close up for safety reasons.

Zodiac boats also transported travellers. Deception Island's volcanic caldera was a dramatic backdrop to Pendulum Bay where people braved the waters for a very quick dip in the sea.

The water was slightly warmer than expected because of thermal activity. There is strict bio security in Antarctica and South Georgia to protect the environment.

In South Georgia the remains of whaling stations quietly rust providing a reminder of the hunting that once called people to the harsh land.

Fur seals, elephant seals and king penguins now abound.

Fur seal pups are some of the cutest young animals you could see but are extremely feisty. Therefore any visitors must take care not to get too close to avoid bites and nips which would easily become infected, not a good idea in such an isolated place.

Jean and John showed beautiful photographs of very diverse birds and animals, brushtail penguins, wandering albatrosses, skuas and petrels as well as the seals and whales.

The talk ended in Port Stanley with photographs of very English architecture and the cathedral juxtaposed with whale bones and skeletons in a back garden to provide a sense of scale for the wildlife.


Stunning Wilhelmina Bay in the Antarctic. Photo by Jean Robson

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Publication:Dumfries and Galloway Standard (Dumfriesshire, Scotland)
Date:Mar 5, 2019
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