“You have to jump again.”
“Haha! That’s funny!”
“I’m not kidding. You jumped too far and blocked Ruth.”
“Oh man! Ruth, we’ve got to do it again!”
This was the conversation Shane Evoy, our Expedition Leader, and I had on February 20th, 2016 after Ruth and I had completed the Polar Plunge in Neko Harbor. Our ship, the Ocean Diamond, had used her stabilizers to clear ice away from the ship and provide a place for about 70 passengers to jump into the 1 degree Celsius water. Ruth and I did come to Antarctica to see penguins so I think we gained a little greater appreciation by swimming in the same water they did.
The reason we were in Antarctica was because I was chosen as the Grand Prize winner in a Penguin Watch contest conducted during May of 2015. Entries to the drawing were earned by counting at least 10 pages of penguins per day at penguinwatch.org. By my count, I had earned entries on 25 of the 31 days and it paid off in a free trip from Ushuaia, Argentina to Antarctica and back with Quark Expeditions.
We were actually scheduled to go to Antarctica in November of 2015 but we were informed shortly after our arrival in Buenos Aires that the ship we were scheduled on required repair suffered at the edges of an iceberg on its return trip.
We left Ushuaia on February 17th and arrived at Half Moon Island, our first port in Antarctica, on the 18th. This was our first opportunity to take a zodiac to land and visit of Chinstrap penguin colony. I’ll never forget how the penguins waddled up and down their pathways with us standing silently out of their way and how they didn’t appear to be bothered by our presence at all. It was amazing!!
At many of our landing sites I was shown the location of the Penguin Watch cameras. It was thrilling to recognize a few of the locations that I’d been seeing via Penguin Watch!
Penguins were not the only wildlife we saw while we were there. We spotted three types of seals, three types of penguins and approximately 15 different species other seabirds. All in all, I was able to spend 5 days cruising the unbelievable wilderness of Antarctica with the fabulous expedition staff for Quark Expeditions and it was a trip that will forever be in my memory!
Todd Ryan – Penguin Watch volunteer