On the first night of the six-day voyage to Palmer Station, the sun sets over the Strait of Magellan in Tierra del Fuego.
After a smooth crossing of the Drake passage, we spent a day dropping off a field team in King George Island at the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula. The island is seen here from the Bransfield Strait.
The station’s winter staff gathers on the dock. Palmer Station, located on the southern coast of Anvers Island at the edge of the massive Marr Ice Piedmont, was still deep in snow.
Palmer Station, the older parts of which were built in the late 1960s.
Nearing Palmer Station, the Gould cruises past an iceberg in the Gerlache Strait, named for the French adventurer, Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery, who explored much of the area in the late 19th century.
A pintado petrel accompanies the Laurence M. Gould as we steam in the far South Atlantic, heading toward the Drake Passage. The headlands of Tierra del Fuego are in the background.
The Gould approaches Palmer Station at dusk in late October. The Bismarck Strait was packed with decaying winter sea ice.
On Torgersen Island, thousands of Adélie penguins gather on their snow-covered nest sites. Using a remarkable homing ability, many have migrated hundreds of miles to the colonies where they were hatched and had previously mated.
Penguins gather in the two largest Adélie colonies on Torgersen Island at the start of the reproductive season. The Marr Ice Piedmont, in background, is a glacier roughly 40 miles long and 20 miles wide. It covers most of Anvers Island.
As the snow melts beneath them, exposing the pebbles with which they will construct their nests, the Adélies begin to pair off, frequently mating with the partner from the season before.
Two of Bill Fraser’s birding team members, Peter Horne and Jennifer Blum, cross Torgersen Island on a warm, still spring day.
The face of the Marr Ice Piedmont. That spring and summer, Palmer Station experienced an unusual number of dead-calm days such as this one. The sea ice was blown out of Arthur Harbor in front of Palmer Station in late October, but would soon move back in.
With the sea largely covered by ice and the land buried under snow, Adélie penguins swim and walk on their spring migration to the penguin rookeries around Palmer Station. Returning to the colonies where they were hatched, the Adélies pair off, mate, and wait for the snow to melt so they can begin building their nests and incubating their eggs.