Deception Island

While this may sound like the title of a thriller, it’s actually the name of the first place in Antarctica that we stepped foot on.

Deception Island is C-shaped with a small opening for the ship to pass into. There is a large rock right below the surface so you have to stay to the port side on the way in.deception.png

We anchored at Whaler’s Bay which used to be home to whaling crew who would kill the whales for their blubber and process them there. The Brits were in charge of that specific area along with some Norwegians. It became a transportation hub as well when they built a hangar and an S-shaped runway.p1040882p1040883p1040885

In the 1960s, the volcano on the island began to erupt and ash began to fall.

Some Chileans also had a base on the island. Eventually they were all able to get out thanks to some brave navy pilots who took the 30+ people out 2 at a time on helicopters.

After the eruption ended, the people returned but only a year or so later, the volcano erupted again leading to another evacuation. Since then the buildings in Whaler’s Bay have not been occupied. Some were destroyed by the mud and ice flows that resulted from the eruption.

Deception Island isn’t so much an island as the crater of a volcano. The sulfur still oozes up and creates warm springs under the sand.

I was able to go on a long hike while there, climbing up to “the nipple.” The ground was soft which made it easy to grip on the steep slope. We also trekked over snow. Up at the top we could see over to the other side and see the three standing rock formations. There was also a green moss area below. This was one of the few areas where vegetation actually grew.

We were allowed to explore the buildings onshore. There were some large oil drums as well. There used to be a cemetery but it was taken out by the mud and snow slides. Two of the crosses were found though and put up as a memorial to those who had died. An empty casket was found as well.

One of the rules of Antarctica is not to disturb what is there. One of the crew told us how one building had collapsed eve more in just the couple of weeks it had been since they were last there.

There was a variety of wood and glass spread out on the land and a partially buried tractor as well.P1040881.JPG

We had the best welcoming committee one could ask for when they first touch down on Antarctica – A chinstrap penguin. It was trying to figure us out, looking side to side in a curious manner. One of the rules is to keep quiet around animals so that we can continue to enjoy their presence while not scaring them off.P1040863.JPG

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