Following the stormy weather that brought in the new year, the SA Agulhas II, an icebreaking polar supply and research ship owned by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), arrived at Penguin Butka at 11.30 am on January 4.

“This year the vessel entered notable ice cover at 67° 50′ S. It was mostly easy going with some ramming during the early hours of January 4. The later departure of the SA Agulhas II has resulted in ice navigation later in the summer. The ice is more depleted by now and navigation has been more straight forward,” the South African National Antarctic Programme said via a statement.

“The SA Agulhas II skirted a storm in her approach to Antarctica. She was peppered with winds of 50 to 60 knots underway. If you are lucky enough to escape motion sickness the sea spray from bow slamming compliments the spectacular sunset.”

The ship entered notable sea ice on January 3, and the ice floes at Penguin Butka are approximately 10 metres in diameter.

“The ice cover becomes increasingly dense but the ship is not required to show her steel yet – owing to the voyage being postponed later in summer. How will her later departure in March influence the ice conditions and will she need to show her steel then?” the Programme said. “On January 4, the SA Agulhas II arrived at the ice shelf in Penguin Bukta to bask in the calm after the storm.”

Picture: Stellenbosch University

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.