We were fortunate enough to make a visit to Baily Head on Deception Island last trip. It’s a difficult shore landing due to breaking waves and often high winds. But we made it and inside the amphitheater, 50,000 pairs of Chinstrap Penguins.
Deception Island, South Shetlands. This semi-submerged volcanic caldera is one of the sites around the Antarctic Peninsula where British Antarctic Survey teams collected the lichens that are now being revived and studied in my lab.
Deception Island is the caldera of an active volcano in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, just off the Antarctic Peninsula. It is a very popular stop on expeditions such as ours as it is the most suitable place to do the highly anticipated Polar Plunge, which I have now done three times and do not feel the need to do ever, ever again. It’s also a great place for a hike around the various craters and is home to a number of interesting ruins, like a derelict aircraft hangar, rusting boilers and tanks.
Even though historically it was used as a refuge from storms and ice, it is pretty much always terrible, dreary weather at Deception Island.
Large eruptions have occurred roughly every 40-50 years, the last being in 1969, so… we’re overdue and I often wonder each time we go, if today might be the day.
As you’ll see from this Google Map, Deception Island is horseshoe shape with a very narrow entrance. In the middle of that entrance is a large, submerged rock which is to blame for at least 1 shipwreck and many, many “dings” over the years.
While not quite as scenic as some of the other places we visit, Deception Island holds a great deal of history and everyone (no, not everyone) enjoys a chance to take a dip in polar waters, which is usually 1°C / 34°F. Not pleasant, but quite invigorating.