• April 6, 2013
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PzW in Antarctica (2): in the footsteps of Arctowski and Dobrowolski

PzW on Cuverville Island, photo. A. Radczenko

“I was sailing once” Ushuaia “by Drake Strait. The storm raged and pulled out our cabin door. We had to save ourself on the lower decks, because at the top it was impossible to resist. And your cabin where? “- Asked me then Mikola Stariniec, head of the XVII Ukrainian Antarctic Expedition and the station “Academician Wernadskij”. My luck was at the bottom, because it was the cheapest, but just this time, Drake was in front of us compassionate and gentle as a lamb.

If you are sailing to the Antarctic you have no chance of avoiding the famous strait before more than 400 years discovered by a British privateer Francis Drake. It took several centuries, but to this day the name of The Drake Passage to be a concern even on the faces of the wolves of the sea. At this point, the meeting of the Pacific and the Atlantic, the so-called Antarctic convergence – where icy Antarctic waters combine with warmer subantriatic, and the differences in temperature, density and salinity there are so large that they live on both sides of a completely different species of fauna – waves and wind become very common unimaginable speed and fantastic raging storms . So we were prepared for the worst (even specifically brought offline Polish in Lithuania “dramamine”), while in our case … nothing happens. The ocean is a gentle, lazy, sun is shining, the ship circling albatross, the sky glide slowly a few clouds, and the wind does not reach up to 20 knots … And so it is in both parties! “Believe us, it’s a miracle!” – Say the scientists who sailed with us on the ship.

On the board of “Ushuaii”

It is early March, in Lithuania it is still winter, while in the Antarctic summer ends. It is now Drake Passage is ice-free and we can freely flow towards the South Shetland Islands. But just a few months, the ice can be even closer to Cape Horn. Even with such perfect weather exceeding one thousand kilometers to the island Aitcho takes us almost two days. Although the crew is trying to spice up our lives with lectures, films and four meals a day are bored and time to hang heavy on power. And the only entertainment is watching for icebergs, whales, and guessing what a dish and what they give us in the mess hall for dinner, because our chef is still experimenting with combining ingredients which don’t go with each other, unfortunately mostly unsuccessfully …

After breakfast, start with lectures. During the first inaugural, introduce us to the standards of conduct, duties and limitations to the protection of the environment and the safety of the animals. To zodiac. You can get on and go ashore only after undergoing procedures for disinfection of shoes, the seal must not approach closer than 10 meters to the penguins – the fifth. “Fortunately, the penguins do not know how to read and know nothing about these rules, so they can bring to us, and even can tug us !” — joking biologist Dr. Julieta Pedrana. Later voice takes Alejandro Fazzio Welf, naturalist and historian who talks about expeditions on the seventh continent. A large part of his lecture is devoted to the first Belgian Antarctic expedition under Adrien de Gerlache de La Gomera on the ship “Belgica”, because our “Ushuaia” flows is more or less the same route she took place in 1897. And here only (but shame!) to me is a man who grew up after the Alina books and…

Arctowski, who was born in 1871 in Warsaw, Poland as Henryk Artzt-children broadcasts Director, yet as a gymnasium student he moved with his parents to the Belgian Liège. He then studied geology and chemistry in Paris, and in 1893 began work at the University of Liège. In the same year to emphasize his Polishness, occurred to the Belgian Government for permission to change his name to Arctowski. In 1895 he met de Gomery’ego de Gerlache Adrien Arctowski, preparing an expedition to the Antarctic the ship “Belgica”, and got an invitation to join the expedition, which nominally being Belgian, indeed brought together a group of enthusiasts from all over the world. Next to the Belgians and Poles in the composition of the expedition consisted of many Norwegians (Roald Amundsen) and Romanian zoologist Emil Racovita. Arctowski before embarking on an expedition in 1897, he even joined the Polish meteorologist Anthony Dobrowolski, who during the expedition as an assistant ran the first meteorology Arctowski Pole …

The expedition set sail from Antwerp in August 1897 in February 1898, it reached the shores of Graham Land, where it was cut off from the Ocean by ice and forced to winter quarters. In this time, many important scientific observation – both natural, among others. The expedition brought a rich collection of natural and geological features, of the first hypothesis, then poked the Arctowski that chain of the Andes is extended to the Antarctic. The expedition, there were plenty of numerous dangers, which repeatedly threatened to crush ice, I missed eating, two members of the crew died. Long efforts of the crew to release from the ice resulted in success only after thirteen months later, in March 1899, this was the first human and, at the same time in Antarctica, winterizing your beginning. The heroic era of Antarctic Discoveries, whose Apogee was Scott and Amundsen race to the South Pole in 1911, he won as we know it, and arrived at the second as Scott Amundson and ended tragically, dying on the road.

The first landing

The first iceberg we saw was only at the end of the second day at the southern coast of Shetland. Drifting quietly totting among waves topped with a thin layer of ice floes. Meanwhile, our eyes grew sea borders the rocky islands. Emerging from the dark ocean and shooting in the cloudy sky of dark shapes of black rocks, sprinkled here and there, glaciers, remind landscapes of Mordor “Lord of the rings” j. r. r. Tolkien. Throw the anchor in one of the smallest of the islands-of Aitcho.

Captain Sergio Oziroff gives the signal to land. Zodiac, tied to a ladder, swinging on a wave. Soak waders with disinfectant and wearing lifejackets mandatory (although in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean vest even hold out no longer than 5-10 minutes, then – as a “joke” sailors – not even worth the trouble to pull out of the water dead ) sit on the side, and a moment later we are moving towards the rocky beach where the landing already waiting for us … penguins.

We get off directly into ice water, and after a few steps we set foot on the land. We are surprised, because instead finding themselves in the land of ice and snow – for what is considered Antarctica –they  walk on the gray rocks, stones and gravel, where there is green lichens, mosses and fungi. The most common birds are, of course, penguins – penguins live on the Antarctic Aitcho (called Chinstrap) – with a black patch on their chin and a sparrow (called Gentoo). The first ones are very skittish whenever someone approaches them too, in their opinion, a dangerous distance rise and begin to cry flee in all directions. The latter, on the contrary are very friendly and curious, if you are not doing too sudden movements and you keep silence – sooner or later come to you to get up close and try the taste of your pants, jacket or gloves. Moving very carefully, we find among them the way to explore the island. Moreover, there a lot of albatrosses, cormorants, petrels, cuffed, gulls and other birds. A frolic near the edge seal …

Two hours on Aitcho Island pass extremely quickly. Finally, I develop a flag PzW and make a souvenir photo on a ship and the bay. Let and penguins know it is a place where “gadasia the Lithuanian “. Penguins respond with indifference, but the flag arouses keen interest in Slovak: “Oh, Polonia” They get their own national flag in their footsteps coming couple Taiwanese …

Hydrurga Rocks and Cuverville island 

Antarctic voyages programs usually provide many landings on the Islands, often lying only a mile or two from the continent, and only a few on the White continent. That’s because they have more affordable edges and their fauna is generally richer. In addition to including some of the Islands is the majority of the research station.  The next day (and like any other day) we have two landings. First, early in the morning, on the Rocks, in the afternoon the Hydrurga on Cuverville island.

Hydrurga-is the scientific (Latin) name of a seal leopard, a very predatory and aggressive marine mammal belonging to the family of earless seals. It is interesting that the island just offshore the seal leopards almost never appear, but at our landing meets us a flock of Antarctic roaring  seals warming on the sun. These seals are not aggressive, what does not change the fact that the best they can celebrate a wide arc; males guard females that had very harem and react nervously for his anyone who approaches him. The exception are penguins, which live with seals in a kind of symbiosis.

There is no shortage of Hydrurga Rock pinquins. Huge, thousands of penguins, colonies of gentoo and chinstrap cover each slope, abundant “by tinting your” a few sheets of snow and ice on the yellow, green and Red (depending on what they eat), and above them there are a number of cormorants and Central Poland. Also on the picturesque Cuverville Island we find a large colony of gentoo penguins. Many of them are sitting, and actually stands as the black and white bars on the arranged with small pebbles connections. Among the young penguins there is a lot which still such are completely covered in soft down.

I decided to climb on an ascending slope above the bay. First covered with snow and ice slope. The slope is not very steep, but very slippery (especially when you are doing trekking in rubber boots). In addition, all peed by penguins, so carelessness and haste can cost penguin landing in a heap (and no laundry on the ship!). Then just one hundred meters of steep rocky slope up. Pebbles move away from the legs, but insisted (albeit slowly) I wade further. After a few minutes I am standing at the border of the glacier, and I delight in the view and only now beginning to understand that it is much more difficult will be way down …

In the evening we travel the scenic Canal, Errera Channel, which carries us among the ice cliffs and mountains dammed to the Neko. This is where for the first time we put foot on the seventh continent. Because the South Shetland Islands off the coast of the continent, although included in the Antarctic, there are the Antarctic …

Source: http://pl.delfi.lt/kultura/kultura/pzw-na-antarktydzie-2-sladami-arctowskiego-i-dobrowolskiego.d?id=61043475#ixzz2U6oHd9mV

Tłumaczenie by Katarzyna Dąbrowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Dąbrowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu. 

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