Sara Ramos e Gabriel Goyanes, Base argentina Primavera, Antártica
The last week I’ve lived the most exciting and, at the same time frightening, experiences here so far. I have really experienced the Antarctic thrill that runs through your body when you become aware of the risks and dangers that Antarctica entails.
On January 25th we arrived to our last Antarctic spot “Cierva Point”, in the continental Antarctic Peninsula on-board of our old friend “The Hespérides”. In Cierva Point we would spend a week in the military commanded Argentinian “Primavera Base”.
The landing manoeuvres to reach this place on the very first day were anything but easy and I must confess I experimented one of my biggest adrenaline discharge ever. From the boat, we got in the zodiac that drove us about 2km to the shore passing through the middle of huge icebergs and extremely dense brush. One hour and a half of inaccessible conditions, plus a water way coming into the boat due to an ice crash and a leopard seal chasing our boat almost all the way through, obligated us to suspend the first attempt of getting the shore.
A second attempt few hours later with slightly better conditions finally allowed us to landing in the Southern beach of the base where our Argentinian fellows where waiting to receive us.
At the first glance, this place is impressive, a small ice-free area where the lovely Primavera Base stands at the bottom of a hill surrounded by water and huge neighbour glaciers. This place is rarely green to be here in Antarctica, the relatively often-sunny weather and a soil rich in substrate and water in the area allow different kinds of vegetation to grow, such as mosses, lichens and gramineas.
Moreover, this place constitutes a paradise for penguins, who chose this place as the safest to nest, rise and teach the youngest ones to hunt and get ready to survive during the incoming cold conditions of the winter, when they will emigrate to somewhere else searching for warmer conditions. Not only the penguins make themselves at home in Cirva Point, this place is rich on other different kinds of fauna; leopard seals, whales, orcas, and different birds live as well in the neighbourhood.
Looking at the sights of this place on a sunny day, everyone would consider it as one of the most beautiful places on Earth, as my colleague and friend Marc Oliva said me once “we must have done something good in this life to be that lucky to be here”.
The week in here passed quickly and we didn’t stop working a minute, the biggest aim in this place was to perform as many drone flights as we could in order to cover the maximum area to create a good map through the drone images after processing them.
The mission was almost accomplished until, during the very last performance, the drone just faded away in the cloudy sky disappearing from our sight during enough time to figure out that something was gone wrong and it had fallen. We rushed ourselves up in a firstly unsuccessful search for the accidental drone by the shore cliffs. Minutes later, I fixed my view in a small iceberg about 20m from the shore that seemed to have an uncommon scar on the top; after checking it twice with binoculars, we could not believe we were seeing our drone on it. Despite of the unlucky falling, it had been lucky enough to land in the tiny iceberg instead of in the immensity of the water.
Chances to recover the drone and uppermost, its memory card, were almost none if it wouldn’t be thanks to the Pelagic crew, who courageously came crossing the Drake in a sailing boat to record some content for documentary purposes and helped us to pick our drone climbing up in the iceberg.
This week has been a bit more stressful than usual because of the unlucky events. Moreover, at the end of the week we received extremely shocking news from The Hesperides ship where we had been travelling few days ago. It seems like one of the Spanish military researches on-board accidentally fell off the boat to the freezing water few miles away. It was already too late when the crew from Hespérides found the death body six hours later. In these Antarctic waters, an exposed person would just stand alive about 5min in the extremely cold water until getting hypothermia. My most sincere condolences to Javier Montojo’s family, I hope this sad event helps to create awareness about the real dangers that this remote place entails.
DIÁRIOS DA CAMPANHA