Saturday, March 30, 2013

Antarctica Special: Wilhelmina Bay

Finally, I am able to browse through my Antarctica images. It is wonderful to relive the trips through the images, but also a daunting task to bring them in order...;-)

One by one I will introduce you to all my favorite places on the Antarctic peninsula.
This time: Wilhelmina Bay

click on the map for a better view

Wilhelmina Bay (4) is a sheltered bay, right off the Gerlache Strait and, no big surprise, named by Adrien de Gerlache, a Belgian explorer. He named the bay after Queen Wilhelmina, the 18 year old Queen of the Netherlands who just had been crowned at that time.

Thanks to it's sheltered location, the water is mostly calm and perfect for reflections!

Exactly 110 years after Ernest Shackelton and Robert Falcon Scott sailed together to Antarctica, their descendants, Jonathan Shackelton and Falcon Scott, both joined us for a trip down to the white continent. What a treat that was. Here Falcon enjoying the views of Wilhelmina Bay.

Glaciers that seem to calve any minute,

and although we never saw a calving in the bay, one morning we arrived in the bay with lots of small ice chunk floating around. A sure sign that a glacier had calved not too long ago.


A peek of the wildlife:

Crabeater Seal on a ice float

and Humpback Whales

Usually we would ship cruise through Wilhelmina Bay, but on our last trip we got the Zodiacs out to give the bay a closer look and

to explore the Governøren

 The Governøren is a wrecked factory whaling ship that originally was built as a UK cargo vessel and then refitted as a whaling ship. She only worked for a short period of time in Antarctic waters before she caught fire on January 27th, 1915. Since the ship was fully loaded with barrels of whale oil the ship burnt down very quickly. Thanks to the quick reaction of the captain who grounded the ship here, so that everybody could leave the ship, there were no fatalities.

Wilhelmina Bay, stunning in any weather!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Conservation Tip

 Drastic Plastic

This add, posted recently by the Surfrider Foundation got me thinking.....12.000 tons a year!!!

 The ocean is turning into a plastic soup, what are you going to do about it?

The first time I realized how much trash and especially how much plastic is floating around in the ocean(s) was when I was reading my dear friend Daisy Gilardini's blog a few years ago:


March 23rd, 2009

The other face of the Archipelago is a very sad story. Fifty tons of plastic arrive at Midway each year brought by circular currents, known as the North Pacific Gyre. Tons of fishing nets, buttons, cigarette lighters, toys, dishwashing gloves, bottles, computers, crates and baskets.
About 80% of this marine trash comes from land, usually washed away by rain off highways, open air landfills and city streets, down streams and rivers, then out to sea. The rest comes from ships and containers lost at sea during storms.

© Daisy Gilardini

And more bad news posted by the Center for Biological Diversity:

The plastic you see and use every day is killing endangered birds, sea turtles and seals by the hundreds of thousands. Every year animals get tangled up in plastic, or eat it, with fatal consequences.

Plastic makes up 60 percent to 80 percent of ocean debris; there are 3 million tons of it in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In parts of the ocean this means there is six times more plastic than plankton, the base of the marine food web. The same durability we value in plastic makes it a persistent pollutant.

Plastic doesn't belong in our oceans; it doesn't belong in the diet of baby sea birds; and it doesn't belong wrapped around endangered seals. That's why we're asking the federal government to establish water-quality criteria for plastic pollution.

By the way, as many of you know by now, some of the plastic harms us, too. More info about that here: November Conservation Tip

So what can we do? Well, we are not going to get rid of plastic completely, at least not any time soon. But there are a lot of things everybody can do to minimize the use of plastic in our everyday life.

Here are seven easy tips:

1. Bring your own bag or basket when you go shopping! Try one of these beautiful baskets: Baskets of Africa they also make great gifts!

2. Drinking water is important but it doesn't have to be out of a plastic bottle. Instead of buying water bottles try using stainless steel or glass bottles filled with tap water. If your tap water is heavily chlorinated try filtering it.
My favorite to-go water bottle, glass but well protected: Life Factory  They even have baby glass bottles.

3. There is really no reason to use plastic plates or cutlery at home other than your laziness...;-) . If you picnic a lot, try bamboo or the good old enamel dishes and maybe even cloth napkins...

4. Try buying food either fresh or in glass jars rather than in a plastic package, then you

5. can reuse the glass jars to store other food or left overs.

6. Bring your own travel mug to your favorite coffee shop, it really makes a difference and many coffee shops even give you a discount when you bring your own. More info about the impact of one-way cups : April Conservation Tip

7. Compost! You won't believe how much less trash you will have = less trash bags and you get free fertilizer, here some tips how to: June Conservation Tip

Sunday, March 24, 2013


After almost 14 years we had to let go of Mocca, our beloved, chocolate loving, Chocolate Lab...

For all our friends who knew and loved her and probably as much for us, I want to say a final good bye with a few images from her long life. So long in fact, that I had to search through my dust covered boxes of printed photos to find some of the images here.

Mocca came as a very sick puppy to us. I saw her in a pet store, and fell immediately in love with her. But noticed right away that she was sniffing and coughing. I had promised myself to never buy a dog from a pet store and for sure not a sick dog. Since the pet store was located in a mall, it happened that I passed the store a few times in the next couple of weeks...and always Mocca was there, looking at me through the shop window. Finally, after about 5 weeks, I had a loooong talk with my husband and the very next morning we went and got her. Although it took a while to cure her pneumonia we never, ever regretted it!

Mocca loved to play ball

and was always ready for a hug

Hard to believe that the boys here in the image are now a college and a high school student...

Although Mocca liked to snuggle up on the couch,

she always loved to be outside,

and being a true Lab preferably in the water...

If she could have laughed, she would have done so every time she was running along the beach, alone into the sunset...

...or playing with her pack,

And yes, snow is also a form of water that she really enjoyed, unfortunately she had not much time left to do so....

Shortly after her death I saw this posting on facebook, and since it fits so perfectly to Mocca I want to share it here with you :

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me.  I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.  He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”
The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.” 

Farewell Mocca, we miss you......