Day 5: Half Moon Island

3:30 PM: Potentially the last landing of our trip at Half Moon Island. This time, we get to see more chin strap penguins and even one lone macaroni penguin. Not sure whether or not he’s lost, or just likes hanging out by himself. On my way down from the viewpoint, one of the rocks I grab onto for stability has guano on it. Unwittingly, I wipe my forehead with my hand afterwards and end up with a face and hair full of guano. Sigh, it was bound to happen at some point.

We follow behind one of the guides who creates a path for us (we have to be careful not to step on endangered moss) to another viewpoint. Expecting a 10 minute detour, we end up on an hour-long excursion to the other side of the island, where we find two crabeater seals resting on the beach. Alex, our guide, tells us more about the variations of rocks on the island and about how half the island was likely underwater at some point, as evidenced by the smooth, round rocks in certain patches. We also find some of the rare moss that only grows 1mm per year, which is why it is forbidden to step on it.

Across the water is Livingston Island, which is beautiful – all covered in white and untouched. The segment we face also has a constant shroud of fog – this happens year round, possibly due to the Drake Passage on the other side of the island.

Alex also touches upon the different views of tourism to Antarctica – some research stations will always say “no” when tourist ships ask for a landing. One such station is the Spanish one, which never allows non-research related landings. Most other stations oscillate between yes and no, depending on their own schedules and whether or not they need to do work out on the land.

6:45 PM: Again, we have our daily recap along with a few end-of-trip treats. The Doctor presented a slideshow of the events of the other three Zodiacs earlier that day in the ice floes. After one zodiac got stuck in the ice, a second tried to rescue it… only to get stuck itself. When the ship attempted to tow both zodiacs, it became stuck in the ice as well. Eventually, the zodiacs pushed the ship out of the floes and all was well.

7:30 PM: Last dinner on the boat! Cake is served and toasts are made, both to us and to the ship’s wonderful team and expedition crew.

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