Our first full stop on our journey to Antarctica was in Fournier Bay. It was here that we had the opportunity for our first disembarkation and exploration of this fascinating environment.
Fournier Bay indents the northeast coast of Anvers (Antwerp) Island, the largest island in the Palmer archipelago. Fournier Bay measures about 8 x 3 nautical miles (15 x 6 km) and is known for having a large population of whales which are attracted to the extensive colonies of krill.
(Map of Fournier Bay, on Anvers Island, Antarctica, courtesy of Bing Maps)
Fournier Bay was likely first seen by a German expedition, 1873–74, but it was not charted until the French Antarctic Expedition, 1903–05. The Bay is named for Vice Admiral Ernest Fournier of the French Navy, even though the Vice Admiral never laid his eyes on the Bay.
We were very lucky to have great weather during our visit to Fournier Bay. It was clear, with only scattered clouds, the blue sky and water contrasting with the pure white of the snow and ice. The temperature was only a few degrees below freezing and winds were mild. Several of the Octantis staff commented on how they'd never had experienced such good weather in this region.
A somewhat different perspective of Fournier Bay is provided in the following video, taken from the deck of the Octantis.
On scanning the Bay, I noted the weather patterns were interesting. While it was dominantly clear, there were small clusters of low-hanging clouds, with focal snow flurries. Even the variation in light in the cloudy sections were interesting. Take a look at the following five photos to see what I mean:
Our Expedition staff rolled out "the toys" (zodiacs, kayaks, SOB boats and submersibles), and during the afternoon everyone had the opportunity to get off the Octantis for an adventure.
My wife and I and friends LestertheInvestor and his wife Pam shared a ride on a Zodiac, exploring the Bay in some detail. Besides a captain, we had a naturalist guide who helped explain what we were seeing. It was a fun ride.
The zodiacs got us a lot closer to land (although there was no safe landing site on which to disembark). The zodiac's captain had to carefully navigate the many icebergs in the Bay.
We had close encounters with swimming penguins, seals, and distant views of whales.
We heard several icebergs calving from the glaciers (sounds like a crack of thunder, or a gunshot), but didn't see that actually happening. The ragged faces of glaciers revealed details of compressed ice, as you can see in the photos below.
We enjoyed a great dinner aboard the Octantis, a pleasant evening with friends, and the day ended with "sunset" in the "Land of the Midnight sun". This is the scenery in Fournier Bay at around midnight. Lovely, isn't it?
For a list of all the posts in DrFumblefinger's Antarctica series, please click on this link: