A zodiac bearing ten passengers sets course for Antarctica from the vessel on which Gary and Kate Lloyd-Rees sailed. It was a 200 passenger ship and only 100 people were allowed on the island from the boat at one time.
Gary Lloyd-Rees was the guest presenter at the first instalment of the Take Time in 2011 Series held at Trinity Anglican Church on the afternoon of Jan. 17. He shared through photographic images his experiences on a recent adventure to Antarctica and Patagonia. (Photo by Melody Falconer-Pounder)
One of the reasons people return to Antarctica is there is always another, better photo to get.
Avid photographers, Gary and Kate Lloyd-Rees shot over 2,000 images on their trip and the presentation was interlaced with a small selection of these photographs.
The most prized image for a photographer visiting Antarctica: penguins on an iceberg.
Penguins weren't the only wildlife the couples saw. In this photo a group of Blue-eyed Shags are shown. In the background, however, some Gentoos head to their rookeries.
But there was nothing in the treaty to address tourism.
Out of 17 species of penguin only four are considered to be true Antarctic species that reside on or near the continent. They are Adelie, Chinstrap, Emperor and Gentoo. Three other varieties, King, Macaroni and Rockhopper can be found in the sub-Antarctic Islands. This lone King was spotted in the Gentoo colony during the couple's trip.
The majestic splendor of Torres del Paine National Park.
A “must-do” for most tourists visiting Patagonia is time spent on horseback whether it is roaming around a ranch or in the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park. Kate Lloyd-Rees was so inclined while her husband opted for photographing from a distance.
Wide open-spaces, mountains, water and wind are the words I would use to describe Patagonia.
Gary Lloyd-Rees found Patagonia to be very windy and wild. Trees grow with the wind in this image taken on a ranch.
Guanaco and Chulengo appear similar to Llamas but their coats are a more solid color.
My intent by the time you leave this presentation today is to have you itching to go to Antarctica and Patagonia and if you’re not, well, then at least you’ll know where it is.
STORY BY MELODY FALCONER-POUNDER PHOTOS COURTESY GARY AND KATE LLOYD-REES
Close to 70 people attended the first installment of the Take Time in 2011 series hosted by Trinity Anglican Church on Jan. 17. The presentation was entitled, “Antarctica & Patagonia” and was delivered by Gary Lloyd-Rees.
“My intent by the time you leave this presentation today is to have you itching to go to Antarctica and Patagonia and if you’re not, well, then at least you’ll know where it is,” said Lloyd-Rees.
Gary, and his wife, Kate Lloyd-Rees, settled just South of Bayfield in late 2008 after having lived and worked on three continents. With children living in three different countries and grandchildren in four, they are part of a truly international family.
In Dec. 2009 and Jan. 2010 they added the seventh, and final, continent to their global travel résumé when they took an "expedition cruise" to Antarctica followed by a self-guided driving trip around Chilean Patagonia.
“We took a four week vacation. I had always wanted to go to Antarctica and Kate had never wanted to go to Antarctica but she had always wanted to go to Patagonia,” said Lloyd-Rees. “So the deal was yes I will go to Patagonia but you have to go to Antarctica first.”
Lloyd-Rees noted that he loves exploring from his armchair and stories of the explorers who worked to discover the continent were in part behind his desire to visit. The race to the South Pole between Robert Scott (Terra Nova expedition 1910-13) and Roald Amundsen (Fram expedition 1910-12) holds a special fascination. Amundsen, a Norwegian, got there first and Scott died on the journey but became a hero to his fellow British countrymen in the process.
Seven nations made claims to Antarctica between 1908 and 1943 but interestingly enough Russia and the United States were not among them. The countries are Chile, United Kingdom, Argentina, Norway, Australia, France and New Zealand.
The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 (in force 1961) covers all area south of 60 degrees South. It states that the land is to be used for peaceful purposes only, that all scientific information must be shared and all vessels/research stations open for inspection.
In 1992 the treaty parties adopted “Protocol on Environmental Protection” which included details on waste management and mineral exploration.
“But there was nothing in the treaty to address tourism,” said Lloyd-Rees.
So in 1991 the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) was created to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. As a result, forty expedition vessels are allowed to bring no more than 30,000 visitors per year. Two hundred sites can be visited, including 20 research stations but only 35 of the sites are visited regularly.
Antarctica comprises 5.4 million sq. miles or 10 per cent of the earth’s land surface. In the winter this doubles to 20 per cent.
On average, it is the coldest, driest, highest and windiest continent. It is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only eight inches along the coast and far less inland.
There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people can be found at the research stations.
In the winter in the interior, temperatures can reach a minimum of −90C and near the coast in summer they have been known to reach a maximum of 15C.
“I checked the weather on the coast today and it is sunny with a high of 5C,” said Lloyd-Rees, this drew a buzz from the audience due to the -20C temperatures that Bayfield is currently experiencing.
According to Lloyd Rees, “Antarctica is the polar opposite of the Arctic. Antarctica is a continent surrounded by water and the Arctic is a basin surrounded by land.”
Antarctic visits are mainly concentrated at ice-free coastal zones over the Antarctic summer, the five-month period from November to March.
“Our ship carried 200 people but only 100 people were allowed to visit at one time from the ship, so we were taken across on a Zodiac with 10 tourists aboard plus one guide,” said Lloyd-Rees.
On their adventure, the couple learned how to identify both penguins and icebergs, equally prevalent in Antarctica and ready and waiting to be photographed.
Avid photographers, the couple shot over 2,000 images on their trip and the presentation was interlaced with a small selection of these beautiful photographs.
“One of the reasons people return to Antarctica is there is always another, better photo to get. We met a man who was on his seventh trip and he was trying to improve on his pictures of penguins on icebergs,” said Lloyd-Rees.
The icebergs have been given such scientific names as Growlers, Bergy Bits, small, medium, large and very large. The Growlers being less than 3 ft. high and 15 ft. long while the very large over 240 ft. high and over 670 ft long.
“In pictures people will notice the blue color of the icebergs with the shapes being made from the wind and the wave action,” said Lloyd-Rees. “The days weren’t all blue skies either we had a few gray days and what is interesting is just how quickly the weather can change.”
Out of 17 species of penguin only four are considered to be true Antarctic species that reside on or near the continent. They are Adelie, Chinstrap, Emperor and Gentoo. Three other varieties, King, Macaroni and Rockhopper can be found in the sub-Antarctic Islands.
“We weren’t supposed to see a King as they are found in the Southern Islands but we did see one residing in the Gentoo colony,” he said.
In addition to the penguins, the couple were able to see a variety of other creatures including, Crabeater Seals, Weddell Seals, Southern Elephant Seals, Humpback Whales and Orcas. Birds were also plentiful such as the Cape (pintado) Petrels and Blue-eyed Shags.
To reach Antarctica, the sailing vessel must cross through the Drake Passage at a right angle to the current. This can make for very rough water.
“Both Kate and I are fairly good sailors with regards to motion sickness and we had a very calm crossing but despite that I was completely down and out. I spent two days in bed, once on the way there and once on the way back. It is just the price you have to pay to get there,” he recalled.
And then it was Kate’s turn to enjoy Patagonia…
“Wide open-spaces, mountains, water and wind are the words I would use to describe Patagonia,” said Lloyd-Rees.
Patagonia is the region in southern South America between the Andes and the South Atlantic.
“There are 150,000 people, about half a million penguins and three million sheep,” said Lloyd-Rees.
In 1860 the first sheep were introduced from the Falkland Islands and now they are an integral part of the agricultural landscape of the region as well as cattle.
“It is a very rugged area and therefore only one crop is produced per year with one sheep or cow requiring about an acre of land. So if you have 10,000 sheep on a ranch you would have about 10,000 acres of land,” he said.
A “must-do” for most tourists visiting Patagonia is time spent on horseback whether it is roaming around a ranch or in the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park.
On the trek around the region the pair saw and photographed an abundance of wildlife including, Darwin’s Rheas, Condors, Guanaco and Chulengo.
The couple learned on their trip that Patagonia has an unfortunate connection to Canada. Some 60 years ago, 50 pairs of beavers were introduced into the region in a doomed effort to install a fur trade and since then the beaver population has exploded. Today, according to Lloyd-Rees there are 120,000 beavers gnawing their way through virgin forests.
“There is a stark beauty about Patagonia. It is very windy and wild and you bring that back with you in terms of the memories of the place but it isn’t somewhere I would go back to. I would go back to Antarctica,” he said.
Kate, however, would most definitely return to Patagonia.
Good thing the couple likes to negotiate their adventures.