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The Antarctic Peninsula is part of the Antarctic Continent and is the southern continuation of the mountain chain that runs from North America through South America into the Scotia Sea. Here it continues as a mainly sub-marine ridge, the Scotia Ridge, until it comes above sea-level at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The peninsula consists of an 800 kilometres (500 mile) long mountain chain, the highest peaks rising to approximately 2,800 metres (9,186 feet), and numerous off-lying islands. The Peninsula offers the most dramatic scenery and biggest variety of wildlife in Antarctica. Visitors are easily overcome by sensory overload by the huge amount of ice-bergs, glaciers, high mountains and the abundant and tame wildlife.
The history of discovery runs parallel to that of the South Shetland Islands. Here, exploitation was again the major force behind the early explorations. Nowadays the Antarctic Peninsula is protected by the Antarctic Treaty, which has been signed by 46 countries. The signatory parties have agreed to abstain for 50 years from recognizing, disputing, or establishing territorial sovereignty claims. The parties also agreed to set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and banned military activity on the continent.
Antarctica can boast several records with relation to climate. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on earth. Although the Antarctic Peninsula is part of the continent it does not show these extremes. During the Austral summer temperatures as high as 15°C (59°F) have been recorded at the west side of the peninsula, however, the average temperature is around 2°C (36°F). Although blue skies and calm weather are common in the sheltered bays and channels, cold katabatic winds, caused by cold air accelerating under gravity from icecaps and glaciers, pick-up quickly and form a strong opponent for the Antarctic traveller.
M/v "Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions. All cabins offer lower berths (either two single beds or one queen-size bed), except for the 5 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds). The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
During this Antarctic dive expedition you may observe penguins from under the surface as well as sea-lions and perhaps even leopard seals. The Falkland islands are rich with krill (which is consumed by many species) and therefore interesting for finding marine wildlife. The dive sites will vary from shallow ice diving, diving along a wall, from a beach or from the zodiac. The maximum depth is around 20 meters / 60 feet. The combination of sunlight and the often extraordinary formations of ice, causes an overwhelming, ever-changing spectre of colours, with a fantastic variety of shades and brilliance.
NOTE: Prices and itinerary have some variations depending on the date of cruise. Please contact BFirst Travel for specific information.
In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located in the shadow of the Andes and right at the Beagle Channel shore. We’ll sail through this scenic waterway during the evening.
During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may see Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black- browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we glimpse at the first icebergs.
We will sail directly to “High Antarctica”, passing the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. On Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island, we will find a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. If we land on Danco Island we can observe Chinstrap Penguins and possibly Weddell and Crabeater Seals. In Neko Harbour we will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glacier and enjoy the landscape during zodiac cruises. When sailing to Paradise Bay, with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, we will have the opportunity for zodiac cruising between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, we hope to get permission to visit the British research station and post office Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy we may also offer a landing on Jougla Point with Gentoo Penguins and Imperial Shags. We sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Pleneau and Petermann Island where we can find Adelie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. In this area there are good chances to encounter Humpback Whales, Minke Whales and Fin Whales. A visit to one of the scientific stations in Antarctica will give you an insight about the life of modern Antarcticans working on the White Continent. Further south we may visit the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station, where we will receive a warm welcome from the station crew. Sailing north through Neumayer Channel we arrive at the Melchior Islands with a very beautiful landscape with icebergs, where we may encounter Leopard Seals, Crabeater Seals and whales.
In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and taking advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.