Thursday, December 27, 2012

#892 Deception Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

Called Deception Island by the whalers that had their base there because they said you could see it from the outside, and not know there was a massive hole and bay on the inside. They also called it deceptive because even when you in there was a bay, you'd think it would be sheltered but the wind rustling through meant that it wasn't actually as warm and safe as it appeared. The opening ¨Nelson´s Bellows¨ is around 200m wide with a large rock in the middle just below the surface, making it a dangerous entrance (the wrecks on the beach are testament to this!), and it is an active volcano, with its 1967 eruption covering much of a British base still there. A tractor was buried in the sand, the graves are well-buried, and the remains of the whaling colony and later settlements were covered with lahar. Argentina and Chile maintain a presence here, as do the penguins.

While you a no longer allowed to dig yourself a hole in the warm sulfur filtered beaches, you can still take a polar plunge there and feel moderately warmer than you might elsewhere! Chinstrap and gentoo penguins may stop on the beach while you look at the remains of the whale bones, wooden oil barrels, and metal bone boilers, and a run down barracks. The airplane hanger remains (it was the location of the first flight in Antartica), though you'll be hard pressed to find the runway, roughly sketched out on a rise as it was. Fascinating stories, and an amazing place!


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