Antarctica 2008!

MV Ushuaia Docked and ready to head south to Antarctica

Zodiacs took us from the ship to landings daily on our Expedition

Fin Whales...the planet's second largest species...these were estimated to be 85-90 feet long.

Gentoo Penguin nesting

King Penguin a little off course from where he should have been

Adele' personal favorite

Chinstrap Penguin running toward me-possibly going for my throat!

Penguins "porpoise" through the smooth  waters after midnight

Wedell's Seal

Gentoo Pair

Snowy Sheathbill

Glaciers abound and frequently calve into the icy waters

Most scenery is snow covered rock and hazy gray skies...

The infamous "blue" of packed not enhanced in any way.

Myself and Chuck Coulter of Des Moines...Yeah, it was pretty cool!

MV Ushuaia "grounded" in less than 12 feet of water after cutting a corner too close.  We waited 22 hours on the rocking ship for help to arrive.    The orange line is the oil containment float. 

Enter the Chilean Navy to rescue us!  They took great care to ensure our safety...and their hospitably on the Achilles was top notch.

An emergency flight back to the southern tip of Argentina on this C-130 Hercules.  Just try to book a flight on one of these babies...good luck!

December 4, 2008, 5:58 pm

Another Antarctic Tourist Ship in Trouble

Just over one year after the polar cruise ship MV Explorer sank off Antarctica, another such ship, the MV Ushuaia, has run aground on rocks in the same area. Governments and international organizations responsible for protecting the environment on the frozen continent are likely to feel more pressure to tighten rules for tourist ships at the ends of the Earth. [UPDATE, 11:50 p.m.: Our news story on the grounding of the cruise ship is posted (being updated overnight).]
Passengers leave the sinking MV Explorer last year in a lifeboat. (Credit: Torrey Trust)

Ill be adding details below overnight, in part thanks to e-mails from Jon Bowermaster, a writer and filmmaker who can often be found kayaking in Antarctic waters but who this time was on the National Geographic Explorer, another ship, about 40 miles from the scene of the grounding. (he was an eyewitness to last years rescue.)

To get some impressions of the benefits and risks of polar travel, I called Geoff Green, the founder and executive director of an amazing program called Students on Ice, which has used a variety of ships including the Ushuaia once to take more than 1,000 students from three dozen countries to the Arctic and Antarctic. (Their next trip, celebrating the International Polar Year, was scheduled to be aboard the Ushuaia. Mr. Green said he was closely tracking the situation Thursday night.)

Im definitely a big believer that the polar regions are incredible platforms for education, he said. It makes issues like climate change real and personal and these kids have dome back and made a difference. But I also believe we have to do it in an way where were obviously not having any impact on the places were going. But there do need to be limits and more rules.