On Saturday the RRS Ernest Shackleton came to visit. She was on her way down to Halley, and stopped off to help out with a few bits and pieces on the way. One of my tasks this year was to visit Moe Island and Lynch Island. These are two small islands, just off Signy, that are ASPA sites (Antarctic Specially Protected Areas). They are designated for the pristine nature of their flora and fauna. One is particularly noted for the abundance of grass!
Visiting the islands is normally not allowed, but every few years the condition of the islands has to be assessed and we were issued a special permit to land. Their condition largely does not change, but the steady increase in the number of Antarctic fur seals around Signy is considered a threat to the vegetation as they spend a lot of time hauled out on land, and can cause a lot of damage. To visit the islands we needed boats, so we boarded the Shackleton, then used their small inflatable boats to reach them. It was great to visit some new islands- here is Signy, looking across from Moe Island.
We had a fantastic day out boating over to each island, landing, completing the survey and then boating back to the ship. Whilst on board we circumnavigated the whole of Signy, caught up with familiar faces and had a couple of nice meals. Most notable was the presence of things such as cucumber, tomatoes and grapes- none of which I have seen since November!
For me, the highlight of the day however was the boat trips to get us to there. The icebergs around Signy are incredible, and from a small boat, the icy pinnacles seem to stretch right up into the sky, in shining shades of silver, blue and grey. Here are just a selection of the best, but they sadly still do not do justice to what it was really like.
Note the small boat for scale in these two...
I find icebergs utterly mesmerising. To be able boat around these beautiful towering giants made this day one of the definate highlights of the season.