Back to Antarctica Homepage... Antarctica Image
Eco-Photo Explorers - Main Homepage Company Information How to Contact Us View Available Programs View Departments

Main Homepage Main Homepage

Antarctica Home

Available Trips

2005 Expedition

2003 Expedition

Deception Island

Ushuaia, gateway
to the Antarctic

Scuba Diving

Expedition Ships

Photo Gallery

Latest News

Online Store

Antarctic Facts




Local Time

Antarctic Geography


Icy Landscape

Southern Ocean

Early Explorers

News Feed  Eco-Photo Explorers - RSS News Feed

Translate PageTranlate

Site  Web

 Search Help

 Site Map

Parting Thoughts

Do your part and help
protect and preserve
our underwater world
for the present and
for future generations
to come.

As we say in the diving
community, leave only

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Divers Alert Network (DAN) - Click to purchase Trip Protection & Diving Insurance
Dive News Network

CCS validates


Deception Island
A restless volcanic giant that still haunts the island...

Expedition Logs: 2005 | 2003 | Deception Island Log Entry
Introduction | Volcanic Activity | Flora & Fauna | Guidelines | A Visit to Deception
Scuba Diving at Deception | Sad News |Quick Facts | Related Links | Photo Gallery

Deception Island, viewed from the air - Courtesy: British Antarctic Survey
Deception Island: viewed from the air

Search Words:  Deception Island - Scuba Diving In Deception Island Diving at Deception Island Antarctica Expeditions Cruises Travel Guide South Shetland Islands Neptunes Bellows Ravn Rock Port Foster Whalers Bay Pendulum Cove Kroner Lake Mt Pond Stancomb Cove Telefon Bay


Deception Island (6257'S, 6038'W) is an island located in the South Shetland Islands off the northwest side of the Antarctic Peninsula and has been a focus of human activity in Antarctica since the early 1820s with the hunting of seal. In fact, the island was given its name by the American sealer Nathanial Palmer who visited the island in 1820. But in the early 1900s, when seals were nearly hunted to extinction, Antarctic hunters turned to whaling.

Deception Island Map
Click here to enlarge image...

In the austral summer of 1906-7, a Norwegian Captain, Adolfus Andresen, began whaling and establish the Hektor whaling station at Deception Island in a place called Whalers Bay. Factory ships took full advantage of the protect cove and processed whale blubber into whale oil, a valuable commodity for lubrication, lighting, and other purposes in the early 20th century. The actual whaling station did not actually process whale blubber, but instead took the carcasses and boiled them down to extract additional whale oil, using large iron boilers, and storing the results in iron tanks. The rusty remains of these boilers and tanks can still be seen today.

Whalers established residences that included a kitchen, hospital, and a small cemetery -- 45 men were buried in the station's cemetery (38 Norwegians, 3 Swedes, 1 Briton, 1 Chilean, 1 Russian and one of unknown origin), but the cemetery was buried in a 1969 volcanic eruption. In 1931 the Hektor station was closed due to the drop in price of whale oil which made it no longer profitable to hunt whales in the Antarctic. British researchers then used the same site for their scientific station until it was finally abandoned on February 23 1969 because of volcanic eruptions that serious damaged the station buildings.

The ruins of this station are the most complete remains of whaling history in the Antarctic, and governments have agreed to let the remains stand, undisturbed, to be seen and understood as part of maritime history and to show the immense power of the volcanic activity that still haunts the island.

If you look at a satellite image of Deception Island you will see that 57% of the island is covered by permanent glaciers. You will also notice that it has a very distinct horse-shoe shape appearance with a large submerged caldera in its center. This crater opens to the sea through a narrow channel called the Neptunes Bellows, forming one of the safest naturally sheltered harbors in Antarctica and is the most-visited site in the Antarctic. Several nations still conduct scientific research here, including Spain, Britain, Argentina, and Chile. The volcanic eruptions has mostly taken care of other attempts to maintain permanent facilities, and as of 2000, there are only two scientific stations still in use today -- Spain has Gabriel de Castilla, and Argentina its Decepcin station. These stations are only in use during the Austral summer months.

Where is Deception Island?
Deception Island is found off the northwest side of the Antarctic Peninsula. An volcanic island located at the southwest end of the South Shetland Islands, northeast of Graham Land Peninsula, and was constructed along the axis of the Bransfield Rift spreading center.  Map 1 | Map 2


Volcanic Activity

Deception Island is also noted for being the largest active volcano in the region and one of the main sources of seismic and volcanic activity in the Antarctic. The surrounding shoreline (inside/outside the caldera) is made-up of dark gray to black dense to fine-grained igneous rock that consists of basic plagioclase, augite, and usually magnetite. From ash layers in lake sediments on the Antarctic Peninsula and from neighboring islands, geologists have been able to construct a unique record of volcanic eruptions occurring over the past 8,700 years on Deception Island.

Approximately 10,000 years ago, a violent and massive eruption evacuated about 30 km of molten rock from the Island, collapsing the volcano's summit forming the Port Foster caldera. The volcano was extremely active during the 18th and 19th centuries. 20th century eruptions occurred during two short periods, between 1906-1910 and 1967-1970. Because of these eruptions, the only remaining signs of the old whaling station are the rusting boilers and tanks. Other remains at Whalers Bay include an aircraft hangar and the British scientific station house, with the middle torn out by the mudflows in 1969.

Satellite image of Deception IslandThe most recent eruptions took place in 1991-1992 when researchers recorded enhanced seismic activity which was accompanied by ground deformation and increased seawater temperatures. Today, geologists are watching the seafloor of Port Foster which is rising rapidly in geological term (rate: approximately 30 cm per year).

The volcano is classified as a restless caldera with a significant volcanic risk and for you daring adventurers, it's one of the only places in the world where vessels can actually sail directly into the center of the flooded crater.

If you're one of the lucky expeditionary ships sailing through the Neptunes Bellows to explore the protected anchorage in Port Foster, you can't help noticing that the terrain looks much like a lunar landscape capped with snow – just barren, dark brown volcanic rock. The topography inside the crater comprises of barren volcanic slopes, steaming beaches and ash-layered glaciers. It's an amazing and thrilling experience. Do not forget to bring your bathing suite as swimming in this water is a unique experience.


Flora & Fauna

This is one of the best places in the Antarctic to see Chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica). In fact, Deception Island is home to over 100,000 breeding pairs of Chinstraps, located at Baily Head (6258'S, 6030'W), on the south-west coast of the island which makes it the largest Chinstrap colony in the world. Gentoo penguins, giant petrels, Wilson petrels, skuas, Blue-eyed shags and Antarctic fur seals are among the other fauna you can observe and if you're lucky, you may also see southern elephants seals!!

Chinstrap rookery at Baily Head
Click here to enlarge image...

Invertebrates - Recorded terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates on Deception Island include 18 species of Acarina (mite), 1 species of Diptera (fly), 3 species of Tardigrada (tardigrade), 9 species of Collembola (springtail), 3 freshwater Crustacea (crustacean), 14 Nematoda (nematode), 1 Gastrotricha (gastrotrich) and 5 Rotifera (rotifer).

Birds - Eight species of bird breed within the Area. The most numerous is the chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica), with an estimated 140,000 to 191,000 breeding pairs. The largest rookery is at Baily Head, with an estimated 100,000 breeding pairs. Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) occasionally nest in small numbers on the island, their southernmost breeding limit. Brown skuas (Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi), kelp gulls (Larus dominicanus), cape petrels (Daption capensis), Wilson’s storm-petrels (Oceanites oceanicus), Antarctic terns (Sterna vittata) and snowy sheathbills (Chionis alba) also breed within the Area.

Mammals - Deception Island has no breeding mammals. Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella), Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddelli), crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus), southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) and leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) haul out on the beaches of the inner and outer coast.

  • The flora in this area is very important and includes at least 18 species of moss or lichen that have not been recorded elsewhere in the Antarctic, 2 of which are endemic. Of particular importance are the unique plant communities that grow at the island's geothermal areas, and the largest known community of Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis). Eleven sub-sites of botanical importance have been proposed as Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 140.
  • The benthic habitat of Port Foster is also of ecological interest due to the natural disturbance caused by volcanic activity. Two sub-sites are currently protected as ASPA No. 145.
  • Visitor Code of Conduct (pdf)
  • Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA)
    Locator Map 1 | Locator Map 2 (pdf)


General Guidelines

The following general guidelines apply to all the sites visited on Deception Island:
Courtesy: Deception Island Management Group
Current Management Package Deception Island Management Group | Current Management Package (pdf)

Management Package Sections:  (pdf format)
Cover & contents | Introduction | ASMA | ASPA140 | ASPA145 | Whalers Bay Conservation Strategy
Facilities Zone Code of Conduct | Visitor Sites Code of Conduct | Volcanic Alert and Escape

Deception Island was adopted as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) at Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting XXVIII (Stockholm, 2005). The ASMA incorporates a matrix of Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs), Historic Sites and Monuments (HSMs), and visitor sites. This will assure its long term protection from the competing pressures of science (and the logistical support of science), nature conservation and tourism.

  • Visits are to be undertaken in line with the Current Management Package for Deception Island ASMA 4 and with Recommendation XVIII-1.
  • All visits must be planned and conducted taking into account the significant risk to human life posed by the threat of volcanic eruption.
  • Expedition Leaders of cruise ships and Masters of national program support vessels are encouraged to exchange itineraries in order to avoid two ships unintentionally converging on a site simultaneously.
  • Vessels approaching or departing from Port Foster must announce over VHF Marine Channel 16 the intended time and direction of passage through Neptunes Bellows.
  • For commercial cruise operators, no more than 100 passengers may be ashore at a site at any time, accompanied by a minimum of one member of the expedition staff for every 20 passengers.
  • Do not walk on vegetation such as moss or lichen. The flora of Deception Island is of exceptional scientific importance. Walking on the alga Prasiola crispa (associated with penguin colonies) is permissible as it will not cause it any adverse disturbance.
  • Maintain an appropriate distance from birds or seals which is safe and does not cause them disturbance. As a general rule, maintain a distance of 5 meters. Where practicable, keep at least 15 meters away from fur seals.
  • In order to prevent biological introductions, carefully wash boots and clean clothes, bags, tripods and walking sticks before landing.
  • Do not leave any litter.
  • Do not take biological or geological souvenirs or disturb artifacts.
  • Do not write or draw graffiti on any man-made structure or natural surface.
  • Scientific equipment is routinely deployed during the austral summer by National Antarctic Programs at a number of locations on Deception Island. The Spanish Antarctic Program deploy equipment for important and
    necessary seismic monitoring. Such equipment is highly sensitive to disturbance. At least 20 meters must be maintained from seismic monitoring equipment, which will be marked with a red flag. This distance is under
    examination - any revisions will be provided as necessary.
  • Do not touch or disturb other types of scientific instruments or markers (e.g. wooden stakes marking botanical plots).
  • Do not touch or disturb field depots or other equipment stored by National Antarctic Programs.


A Visit to Deception

Click here to view GPS position of the Polar Pioneer... Where is the Polar Pioneer?
The Polar Pioneer was the expedition ship we were diving from. Click here to view the satellite tracking system that shows you where the Polar Pioneer is at the present moment. You can zoom in or out to get a better perspective of her location.

Our arrival on Deception was via a Zodiac that carefully navigated its way through rough surf to deposit us onto a black, volcanic beach near Baily Head. A reception committee of Chinstrap penguins greeted us and escorted us down the beach in the general direction of their rookery.

As we made our way down the beach to the rookery, we came upon a single southern elephant seal, lying silent as if it was on guard -- It was huge!! As we slowly slipped pass this sleeping giant (at a safe distance), it suddenly opened its blood-shot eyes and peered right at us -- It showed no fear. Frozen in our tracks, we looked at each other not knowing what to do. Seconds passed, and we decided to keep moving. As we did, it unexpectedly raised its massive head and barked out an order as if saying "don't stop, just keep moving". Scary as is was, it was one of the most memorable moments we experienced during our trip. This was the first elephant seal we ever saw and since this was our last stop before leaving for home, we never expected that we would be fortunate enough to see such a magnificent animal.

At the entrance to the rookery, was a small group of fur seals and feeding skuas. From here, it was a short hike into the nearby hills where we were able to wander among the raucous but spell-binding crowds of penguins.

After exploring the rookery, we descended back to the beach, following a small stream of water. It was here that we encountered large, slumbering Elephant Seals. While these seals may appear to be ungainly on land, it is strongly advised that visitors keep their distance: Elephant seals can move extremely quickly and will attack if threatened.
The drama of everyday life on Deception for its natural inhabitants can be seen in the daily struggles of Penguins to ward off incessant attacks by Skuas. This is always so difficult to watch, but it is an essential part of nature’s grand plan and one must, despite all instinct, avoid interfering. In addition to the peril posed by circling Skuas, Penguins must also contend with Elephant seals that patrol the waters nearby, also looking to feast on the birds as they make their way to open water to feed.

Our exploration of Deception also included a visit to the stark remains of the old whaling stations. The rusting hulks of the boilers and tanks stand in silent contrast to the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Whispers of past activity seem to blow through the remains from so many decades ago. In addition to these sentinels from the past, the stony grave sites of several unfortunate souls can also be seen, a sobering reminder of the hardships endured by early Antarctic explorers.

Finally, we concluded our visit to Deception with a SCUBA dive into the caldera. Unfortunately, these's not much to say about the dive except to record in your log book that you made a dive inside a restless volcano!! We made the icy plunge at a location called Stancomb Cove in Telefon Bay, a small protected anchorage used by visiting yachts. The cove was formed as the result of volcanic eruptions on the island between December 1967 and August 1970. After being surveyed by the HMS Endurance in January 1988, this feature was named after the boat Stancomb-Wills used in the survey.

Henrik Lovendahl, our dive guide for this expedition carefully maneuvered the zodiac over an area known for having a deep underwater drop off. It was here that we decided to gear up and begin our dive. As we made our way down, the terrain had a sharp slope and was made-up of tiny brownish-tan lava type stones with some unknown algae growth scattered about. The visibility was fair as long as you took care and do not disturb the bottom. Doing so would send a monstrous cloud of slit into the water column. Within seconds, a total white-out condition was created, which could last for hours.

Amphipods in Stancomb Cove (Deception Island)Diving beneath the icy waters of Deception Island was like entering an alien environment almost devoid of large marine life. Indeed, the most dominant species seemed to be millions of tiny Amphipods (pictured-right) and Probiscus worms (Courtesy: Peter Brueggeman - pdf).

Soon it was time to leave, and like our arrival the departure from Deception Island was no walk in the park. Our zodiac driver had to once again skillfully traverse through rough surf in order to make it safely ashore. Many of the boats leaving the beach were almost swamped, including ours. All I can say is "our departure was an exhilarating way to end our amazing adventure".

Weather/Water Conditions:
Air Temp: 37.4F (3C)
Depth: 49 ft (15 m)
Water Temperature: 28.6F (-1C)
Location: 6256'S, 6041'W


Dive Sites

See map for dive site locations

Antarctic Diving Schedule - All trips require reservations and can be made by contacting us through our online form to check availability. Please contact us to verify your selection before making any airfare or accommodation arrangements. Due to unforeseen circumstances, dates are subject to change without notice. Referrer Name: Eco-Photo Explorers Click here to book your next trip...

Below Freezing - The Antarctic Dive Guide Below Freezing - The Antarctic Dive Guide, 2nd Edition Order Now!!
BELOW FREEZING is the first and only dive guide to the Antarctic. Until recently the exclusive realm of scientific and military divers, this icy wilderness has become the extreme destination for recreational divers wishing to explore beyond the conventional.

$38.50 USD [ Order Now ] - enlarge image

Stancomb Cove (6256'S, 6041'W) - Located in Telefon Bay, a small protected anchorage used by visiting yachts. As descend, the terrain will take on a sharp rocky slope with some unknown algae growth scattered about. The visibility can be fair as long as you took care and do not disturb the bottom. Doing so would send a monstrous cloud of slit into the water column. Within seconds, a total white-out condition will be created, which could last for hours. Average Diving Depth: 23ft/7m to 49ft/15m. What can be seen: millions of tiny Amphipods, Probiscus worms, Brittle Stars. Water Temperature: 28.6F (-1C).

Sewing-Machine Needles (6258'S, 6030'W) - This rocky formation can be seen as you approach Neptunes Bellows on the southeast side of Deception Island between Baily Head and South East Point. If the weather permits there may be an opportunity to dive the needles, but care must be taken. The site is very exposed, and the conditions can be rough with sizeable swells. Recorded dives at this location usually start at the outermost pillar which meets the bottom at about 89ft/27m. As you descend, the stepped wall takes on a rocky slope. Average Diving Depth: 36ft/11m to 89ft/27m. What can be seen: Sea Stars, Sea Spiders, Moon Snails, Limpets. Water Temperature: 28.6F (-1C).

Whalers Bay (6259'S, 6034'W) - Just inside Neptunes Bellows lies the cove called Whalers Bay, which is bordered by a large black sand beach. The conditions are usually calm with no surge. Beach dives are fairly common at this site, but care must be taken because of possible zodiac traffic. The slight slopping bottom makes navigation to shore fairly easy. Watch your depth, because it drops off pretty quickly (30ft/9m from shore, drops to about 39ft/12m). Average Diving Depth: up to 131ft/40m. What can be seen: Probiscus worms, Brittle Stars, Sea Stars, Sea Urchins. Water Temperature: 28.6F (-1C). Please take care and follow ALL landing guidelines for this location.

Neptunes Bellows (6300'S 6034'W) - Entrance into Post Foster - narrow channel, about 1640ft/500m wide. Its best to dive this location at slack tide. Strong tidal currents of 2-3 knots can flow through the channel and can be accompanied by large swells that may cause sizeable surge. Recorded dives at this location usually take place between Fildes Point and Petes Pillar on the northeast side of the channel. Average Diving Depth: 23ft/7m to 82ft/25m. What can be seen: Sea Stars, Sea Spiders, Limpets, Probiscus worms, Brittle Stars, Sponges, Tunicates, Anemones, Nudibranches. Water Temperature: 28.6F (-1C).


Sad News

Deception Island is the most-visited location in Antarctica. The number of cruise ships and tour group visitors is increasing sharply and it appears likely to continue increasing each and every year. Currently, nothing is in place to control the number of visitors -- already above 26,000. Discussions about limiting Antarctic tourism have been raised since the 2001 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, and the topic was brought up again at the annual meeting, which was held in June 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Governments and tour companies are now working together to limit the number of people allowed to visit, and each ship must plan visits in advance, to lessen their impact on the island and its wildlife. Since there are no binding limits currently in place to control the number of tourists visiting sensitive and remote areas, some environmental groups have been pushing for regulations to protect this fragile wilderness.

Another seemly senseless problem that is now coming to light is the issue of graffiti. Why do humans feel that they have to leave their mark and destroy everything they touch? Why can't people just enjoy the surrounding beauty and leave it in the same pristine condition in which they found it? Since there are no authorities like park rangers around to keep an eye on things, its up to the tour guides and our consciences to keep us from damaging this delicate environment. Graffiti is now increasing and can be seen on oil tanks and an old airplane hanger indicates that not everyone who has stopped here has respect for these ruins or the fragile environment in this spectacular place.

We all must do what ever you can to help protect and preserve this special world for the present and for future generations to come.

Deception Island Graffiti - Courtesy: Deception Island Management Group
 Images Courtesy: Deception Island Management Group


Quick Facts

General Information
Elevation 576 m (1,890 feet)
Location Antarctica - Located in the South Shetland Islands off the northwest side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Coordinates 6258′37.2″S, 6039′0″W
Type Caldera - a volcanic crater that has a diameter many times that of the vent and is formed by collapse of the central part of a volcano or by explosions of extraordinary violence.
Volcanic Activity Several small eruptions occurred on the island between 1967 and 1970 and the caldera remains restless. The most recent eruptions took place in 1991-1992.
Fauna Eight species of seabird breed on the island. Home to the largest Chinstrap colony in the world. Gentoo penguins, giant petrels, Wilson petrels, skuas, blue-eyed shags, Antarctic fur seals as well as elephants seals.
Climate The mean annual air temperature is -3C. Temperatures range from +11C to -28C. The mean annual equivalent of rainfall is 500mm. Prevailing winds are from the northeast and west. Extreme micro-climates exist around steaming fumaroles and geothermally heated water where temperatures of 70C have been recorded.
General (10 km diameter) caldera flooded by the sea. The caldera collapsed perhaps 10,000 years ago, after a major eruption that ejected at least 30 km3 of magma, which would have extended the present coastline by about 7 km (4.3 mi) in all directions. Over 57% of the island is covered by permanent glaciers.
Notable Features
Neptunes Bellows Entrance into Post Foster (6300'S 6034'W) - narrow channel, about 500 m (1640 ft) wide.
Ravn Rock Water Hazard - lies 2.5 m (8 ft) below the water in the middle of Neptunes Bellows. The rock was named after the whale catcher Ravn, based at Deception Island at that time.
Port Foster Covering most of the middle or center of the island is a bay called Port Foster - 9 km (5.5 mi) long and 6 km (3.6 mi) wide. A submerged basal diameter of approximately 30 km and rises to 1.5 km above the sea floor
Whalers Bay Whalers Bay (6259'S, 6034'W) is a cove bordered by a large black sand beach and lies just inside Neptunes Bellows to the north. Whalers Bay was named by the French explorer Jean-Bapiste Charcot because of all the whaling activity going on at the time. Its current status is "closed" and was cleaned up by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in 1990/91 and 1991/92. The remains of the Norwegian whaling station is designated as Historic Site No. 71 under the Antarctic Treaty, 19 May 1995.
Telefon Bay The main feature of botanical interest is that all surfaces within the site date from 1967, thereby allowing accurate monitoring of colonization by plants and other biota. The site has a generally barren appearance, but close inspection reveals an abundance of inconspicuous mosses and lichens. Telefon Bay was named after a salvaged vessel called "Telefon" that was moored in the bay in 1909 awaiting repairs.
Pendulum Cove This site is comprised of a very uneven gentle slope of very coarse grey, crimson, red scoria and occasional disintegrating blocks of yellowish tuff overlying a dead glacier, and is located due east of Crimson Hill. Named after the British pendulum and magnetism experiments held here in the 19th century. In 1955 Chile inaugurated its station Pedro Aguirre Cerda at Pendulum Cove, to increase the Chilean presence in the sector claimed by that nation (6256'S, 6036'W). Although vegetation is very sparse in this location, this known-age site is being colonized by numerous moss and lichen species. Some of the mosses are considered Antarctic rarities.
Kroner Lake Kroner Lake was a small shallow crater before it was broached by the sea during the 1980s. Currently, it is the only intertidal lagoon with hot springs in Antarctica. It supports a unique community of brackish-water algae and is part of the same volcanological feature as Ronald Hill. Kroner Lake is located due north of Penfold Point.
Stancomb Cove Stancomb Cove (6256'S, 6041'W) - Located in Telefon Bay, a small protected anchorage used by visiting yachts. The cove was formed as the result of volcanic eruptions on the island between December 1967 and August 1970. After being surveyed by the HMS Endurance in January 1988, this feature was named after the boat Stancomb-Wills used in the survey.
Baily Head Baily Head (6258'S, 6030'W) is on the south-west coast of the island and is home to over 100,000 breeding pairs of Chinstraps penguins which makes it the largest Chinstrap colony in the world.
Sewing-Machine Needles Whalers originally called this rocky formation "Sewing-Machine Rock" (6258'S, 6030'W) because of its natural arch appearance. Today its called "Sewing-Machine Needles", a more suitable descriptive term; due to an earthquake tremor in 1924 which caused the arch to collapse. These three prominent rocky faced pillars raise high above the water, the highest reaching as high as 148 ft (45 m).
Mt Pond This site has numerous active fumaroles, and has incredible botanical interest. It possesses several moss species which are either unique to the Antarctic or are extremely rare in Antarctica. Its highest point of elevation is 539 m (1768 ft).

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) DHC3 Otter Wreckage:

DHC3 OtterThe DHC3 Otter was another successful aircraft in the de Havilland Canada's family of rugged and useful STOL utility type transports. This Otter was capable of performing the same roles as the earlier and highly successful Beaver, but was a much larger aircraft. The BAS de Havilland Single Otter aircraft stationed at Deception Island had a relatively short operational life. The DHC-3 Otter, Construction No. 294 made its maiden flight in Canada on October 17, 1959. The aircraft was originally registered as VP-FAI but painted and flown as VP-FAK.

It arrived at Deception Island in pieces on January 26, 1960, and was assembled on site. Amazingly, it flew days later on February 3, of the same year. Although it was serviced and spent its winters months at Deception Island, during the summer seasons it operated out of Adelaide Island. In October 1961 the plane was damaged in a gale at Deception, and it was again damaged in a crevasse accident at Adelaide in December 1964.

Flying conditions in the Antarctic are very demanding on aircraft and conditions at Deception Island was no different. The Otter was damaged a number of times, the last time being at Adelaide Island where it made its last flight from there to Deception Island on March 7, 1967. Following an inspection, the aircraft was grounded due to extensive metal fatigue in its fuselage on March 26, 1967, having flown 981.30 hours and made 853 landings. During the 1966/67 season, this aircraft was used for the first airborne radio echo sounding to be carried out in the Antarctic.

The aircraft was stored outside at Deception Island in a dismantled state for nearly 40 years until this historical artifact was recovered from Deception Island, Antarctica in April 2004 to prevent theft. The plan was to take the plane to the hangar at Rothera research station for safekeeping and then shipped back to the UK. Currently, the plane and many of its parts have been relocated and will be on long term loan to the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre at Salisbury Hall, London Colney for restoration and for public display. The de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, formerly the Mosquito Aircraft Museum, is a volunteer run aviation museum in the English county of Hertfordshire, just north of Greater London.

DHC3 Otter DHC3 Otter DHC3 Otter DHC3 Otter DHC3 Otter

Click on the images above to enlarge and see how the Otter was safely and successfully moved with no damage to the fragile aircraft.  The images are courtesy: British Antarctic Survey (BAS)


Related Information & Links

Available Books & Videos

amazon.comBook Search...

Antarctica Travel Books
Below Freezing - The Antarctic Dive Guide Lonely Planet Antarctica Antarctica: A Guide to the Wildlife, 3rd Edition Complete Guide to the Antarctic Wildlife Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica Seabirds: An Identification Guide
Antarctica Travel Map & Videos
Antarctica Travel Map Life in the Freezer DVD Antarctica Video DVD Antarctica Video DVD

Please email all questions or comments with this site to Technical Support.

- Support#form


Last Modified: December 21, 2009

Report problems or send comments to Web Development :: Contact Us :: Privacy :: Copyright :: Web Accessibility 

Web Development -
Privacy Statement -
Copyright & Disclaimer Notice -
Copyright © 1994-2019 Eco-Photo Explorers (EPE) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED