Friday, 23 September 2016 17:32

A deceptive island

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On the 31st January, multiple helicopter rides transferred us and our camping gear from the beach on Byers Peninsula back on to the Aquiles before heading to our next same-day destination, Deception Island. Another helicopter ride dropped us off to Gabriel de Castilla, the Spanish base on the active volcanic island.

After a very nice welcoming by the Spanish military personnel who operate the base, we spent five days around this island, that close up gave a much different impression than what was expected for being in Antarctica. We visited many sites on the Island such as Lobera Beach, Whaler’s Bay, Crater Lake and Fumaroles Bay. In Whaler’s Bay, we roamed around the abandoned Bisco House, silos, refinery and equipment that were used during the whaling period in the early 20th Century. Most of the buildings and ships were destroyed from the Deception Island volcanic eruption in 1969.

Mel, Paz and Hannah in our Viking Survival Suits in front of Bisco House

My main fieldwork goals here were to collect samples of Ceratodon purpureus, Schistidium antarctici and Bryum pseudotriquetrum for DNA analysis and if lucky some long shoots! Unfortunately no long shoots but a few other samples that will have to wait for species ID analysis. As I was collecting samples, I saw quite a few springtails and sporophytes in the field (see below).


The food was amazing during our stay at Gabriel de Castilla thanks to the wonderful alternating chefs and their helpers! Many meals were restaurant quality with large portions of whole fish, pork, paella, turkey leg, lamb shanks, risotto and tuna steak. Yes, I made a brief food diary to remind me! For our last meals, we were treated to tapas for dinner and churros, hot chocolates and muffins for breakfast. Yum J

We farewelled our Spanish friends on the 4th February, which was a little sad since they were so welcoming and hospitable. They escorted us to the ship for our journey back to Escudero to pick up Gustavo, Marisol and Gustavo Jnr (plus a few others) and then to Punta Arenas. On our way back to Patagonia, sailing through the Drakes Passage was not too bad (4-6 m swells) when on strong sea-sickness tablets. However, when we arrived very early on the 9th Feb we were all extremely happy to be on land after the nautical leg on our way home.

Read 2313 times Last modified on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 18:39