We took the Zodiac cruise to Danco Island and a short hike up a glacial ridge to a large penguin rookery. We went from the storm to the calm waters and clear skies and then from the quiet solitude of the channel to the cacophony of the penguins – Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap - they were all going about their business as if we were not even there.
The second day we were barely awake when the expedition leader announced the spotting of minke whales on the starboard side of the ship. Floating amongst the serene beauty of glacial ice scultures, we saw a leopard seal hunt a fur seal and devour it. The next day a leopard seal nudged one of the canoes and popped its head out of the water next to the canoeist.
The following day a humpback whale turned up less than 12 meters from a kayaker and we were able to see and photograph it from the Zodiac at about the same distance. It was a family of 3 and they seemed to enjoy playing around and doing tricks for about 15 minutes before diving deep for their krill and plankton.
This treaty, which was signed by 52 nations, bars countries from owning or exploiting the land except for research and science. It is not only the world's most important natural laboratory but also our last great wilderness. It is also fragile and vulnerable. This continent in it's untouched natural state and the research on it are key to understanding of how our world naturally works and our impact on our ocean systems, marine life and climate. If anyone ever gets a chance to make this trip, my very strong recommendation would be to grab it. I do not have the memory of an experience that surpasses it. And if there is any way in which you may be able to help in building the consensus to extend the present Antarctic Treaty, it would probably be a great service to many generations yet unborn.