Day 11 |
Feb 04, 2011

At Sea on the way to Elephant Island

By Uli Kunz - Oceanographer and Zodiac Driver

Coordinates: 59˚54’ S, 51˚00’ W
Weather: Bright with scattered clouds, blue sky in the evening
Air Temperature: 1.6 °C, 34.8 °F
Sea Temperature: 3 °C, 37.4 °F
Pressure: 991 hPa
Wind: 52 km/h

Luke Kenny resumed our lecture program in the morning and talked about his time as a fishery biologist with the British Antarctic Survey at King Edward Point in South Georgia. The main scientific work that is undertaken year round there involves the assessment of fish resources around the island.

The Marine Renewable Assessment Group works as a consultant for the South Georgia government providing statistical assessment of fish stocks and deploys observers. Luke participated in collecting samples of stomach contents of icefish and toothfish and took otoliths (ear bones) from toothfish to investigate the age of the fish.

The second most important study on South Georgia refers to the investigations of Higher Predators like the fur seals. The reason for that is that the ecosystem is not yet fully understood and there is not sufficient knowledge to create a computer model of the system. Higher predators are dependent on the ecosystem below them. A decline in the reproductivity output of a top predator indicates poor food availability and may give hints that some fish or krill stocks are already overfished.

Right after the lecture, I participated together with all the crew onboard the Prince Albert II in a safety drill. We reviewed our training on how to get to the lifeboats in a safe way and how to enter them.

Right before and again after lunch, all guests were kindly asked to bring their gear to the mud room, for we had to conduct another biosecurity control before we do any landing in Antarctica. It was time again for the “Vacuum-cleaning Party”! The guests cleaned the underside of their rubber boots and we checked the outer gear and the Velcro of the parkas and gloves for any sign of living material like grass and seeds that could be introduced as invasive species.

“Rockstar” Juan, our geologist on board, presented a lecture about ice in the afternoon. He explained all different forms of ice and snow, talked about the formation of glaciers and moraines and named all kinds of sea ice. A nice taste of what we hope to see the next day!

Robin Aiello started the Recap in the evening with a dubbed version of a very funny movie, showing all kinds of animals behaving in a clownish way (and speaking with a human voice...). During the more serious part, Claudia talked about the implications of the Ozone Hole over Antarctica, Juan showed pictures of receding glaciers in South Georgia, Christian “Rapa Nui” presented the trials of early explorers to use dirigibles on the North and South Pole and Ken explained the latest species of seabirds circling our ship today.