Minke whale, penguins join Antarctic expedition

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It has been just over two weeks since Oamaru author and historian David Harrowfield set off on his two-month trip to Antarctica.

Dr Harrowfield has been aboard the Spirit of Enderby since January 11 along with 50 passengers and 40 staff heading to Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

During his time away, Dr Harrowfield will be lecturing to passengers on the history of exploration and conservation in Antarctica as well as being an on-shore guide and helping out with any other tasks that may need doing.

Dr Harrowfield sent news of his adventures to the Oamaru Mail via satellite phone on Friday.

The ship reached Antarctica this week and on Friday it was 119 years to the day since the first landing on January 24, 1895 by the whaling ship, Antarctic, he said.

“As the Spirit of Enderby of Heritage Expeditions heads south, we have begun our week in the Ross Sea with a magnificent morning at Cape Adare.”

They had an “outstanding” morning, with beautiful weather, on Friday at Robertson Bay behind the Adare Peninsula, he said.

“The high peaks of the Admiralty Range, with some above 4000 metres, stood out against a pale blue sky and great glaciers snaked down valleys to the coast.

“Around us were icefloes moving up and down with groups of Adelie penguins enjoying the ride.”

They then passed Ridley Beach where they saw the continent’s first buildings which were erected for the British Antarctic Expedition in 1899, Dr Harrowfield said.

They also saw a third hut, in ruins, which was used by Captain Scott’s Northern party in 1911.

“We hope to land here on our way north and make a closer inspection of the huts.”

After an “excellent pasta lunch”, they headed further south towards Ross Island, he said.

“Soon after leaving, a Minke whale surfaced beside the ship, while beautiful Snow petrels continue to accompany us on this special journey of a lifetime.”

Dr Harrowfield is currently on the first of two consecutive one-month trips with Heritage Expeditions.

By RUBY HARFIELD