Whalers’ Bay, Deception Island

The flooded caldera of Deception Island is known as Port Lockroy, and just inside is the wide, black arc of Whalers’ Bay. Going ashore in 35 knot wind, buffeted by hail and grit was both challenging and satisfying. I wrote then about the sensory overload: the crunch of gritty snow, the crack of volcanic grains against jackets and their skin-stripping impact on my exposed face.

Curiously, despite the impact of water on the lens, it proved remarkably photogenic. The deserted whaling boats harbour bright light in their ruined holds, untouched snow capturing its own reflections and shining against the blackened beach. The boats rest on the pebbles, pointing at the surrounding unstable hills while the seals play around them, ignoring the evidence of treachery. The snow, pristine in itself, is grubby and blackened by the mud and grit, ruched up into miniature dunes which lie in swales left by the mudslides.

Other crew (as always) took amazing pictures, capturing some of the buildings: there was a small aircraft hanger here, though one shudders at the thought of the landings. Today it is empty save for drifting snow and bits of wood. And, too, there is a small, intensely atmospheric graveyard. Thanks to Sharryn and Lindsay respectively for these great photographs.

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