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Rotarians treated to sights of Antarctica

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Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club member Jeff Barrom talks about his December 2012 trip to Antarctica.

Sunnyside's Jeff and Erika Barrom last December traveled to Antarctica.

At the weekly Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club meeting held this morning, Wednesday, Mr. Barrom shared with his fellow Rotarians some of the photos taken and information learned on that trip.

He said he and his wife spent 11 days and 10 nights aboard the National Geographic ship.

They left Ushuaia, which is the southernmost city in Argentina aboard the ship, which carried them through the Beagle Channel to the Drake Passage and on to Antarctica.

"These pictures really don't do it justice," Barrom said of the scenery.

While traveling across the waters of the Drake Passage, Barrom said the swells were 15-feet high. However, the captain of the ship informed the passengers those were tame waters.

"The captain was crazy," Barrom said, stating the ship's captain asked members of the group if they were eager to ram through icebergs.

Barrom said others aboard the ship included a dive team from National Geographic International, which made the trip interesting as the divers left the ship to film underwater.

On the second day of the journey, Barrom said those aboard the National Geographic were able to see a fin whale. On several occasions, the passengers were able to see different species of wildlife. The ship even followed a pod of whales along the trip. That pod included nearly 50 orcas, a humpback and a minke whale.

Penguins entertained those on the expedition, as well. "They are just funny," Barrom said, noting a variety of penguins were spotted on icebergs, on land and at sea.

He noted they were even treated to the sight of Emperor penguins.

On Dec. 22, 2012, the passengers aboard the National Geographic set foot on the continent of Antarctica. "We didn't hike much," Barrom said, stating the walking paths were designated and marked by orange cones to keep the passengers from traversing the penguin passages.

"Sometimes all you would see was a line of little heads," he laughed.

Barrom's favorite photo was taken by Mrs. Barrom. It was a picture of penguins traversing the icy waters near the ship. They appeared to be leaping from the water as they swam toward their destination.

The LeMaire Channel was on the route of the expedition. Barrom said, "It is probably the most beautiful place I've been in the world."

He said the sights of the channel included up-close glacial views. Some of the blues from the water and the glaciers, he said, were unlike any he has seen.

Also, the horizon is unlike any Barrom has seen before because instead of appearing to round off it appears as though the earth is suddenly cut off.

One stop on the journey was made at Port Lockroy, which was used as a British spy station. Barrom said it was believed the British were monitoring German submarines from the station, which was later closed.

In recent years, it has been rehabilitated and serves as a museum, as well as an expedition post.

Barrom said there are whale bones dotting the landscape because whalers used to also stop at the post.

He said the best part of the trip was having access to scientists and expeditionists who were aboard the National Geographic. He said the passengers could hold personal conversations, attend lectures and learn from the experts aboard the ship.

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