Cuverville Island

Tags: Antarctica, Cuverville Island

Date: December 13, 2022

We visited Cuverville Island in the Errera Channel, which was full of small and large icebergs. Here is one seen from the deck of Fram:

View over more of the channel and icebergs with mountains in the background:

Cuverville Island was discovered by the Adrian de Gerlache, leader of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition (1897–1899) The island was named after a French naval vice admiral, Jules de Cuverville.

Most of the island was covered in snow, more snow than is usual at this time of year (early Summer):

The island supports a breeding colony of about 6,500 gentoo penguins, deemed the largest for this species on the Antarctic Peninsula i 2012. The brown spots are where the penguin cluster to build a nest and lay their eggs:

The expedition guides on Fram went ashore before the guests to prepare a marked path for us. This skua decided that the prepared path was the perfect spot to settle in, so it sat there while all the tourists had to make a little half circle detour from the path to get around the bird. This didn't seem to bother it at all:

The brown spots where the penguins cluster is not where the underlying rock protrudes but rather an accumulation of penguin poo:

Gentoo penguins cannot lay their eggs on the snow so they have to wait for the snow to melt or find a snow-free place, often further away from the beach, to be able to nest. This is apparently the second year in a row where gentoo nesting has been delayed due to excessive amounts of snow. The theory is that the global warming leads to increased precipitation in Antarctica.

The penguins make penguin "highways" to walk between colonies and from the colony to the beach to feed:

Penguin egg eaten by probably a skua or a sheathbill:

Here, quite far up from the beach, some gentoos have found a small spot without snow:

Views towards Cuverville Island from Fram: