Day 6 |
Jan 30, 2011

 At sea en route to South Georgia 

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist


Co-ordinates: 53º 18,4’ S, 043º 36,6’ W
Weather: Overcast skies
Air Temperature: 5ºC
Sea Temperature: 5ºC
Pressure: 1011 hPa
Wind: Northerly wind blowing at 22 knots (Force 5 - 6)

Another day at sea and one day closer to South Georgia, one of my favorite places in the world. Expectations are building as we get ready for our arrival at this jewel of the Southern Ocean.

At 9:30 this morning our Expedition Leader Robin West gave a mandatory IAATO briefing where he explained the rules, regulations and code of conduct that must be followed by all visitors to the Antarctic. IAATO stands for International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, and it is the organization in charge of regulating tourism activities in the Antarctic so that they are low impact and as environmentally friendly as possible.

This presentation was followed by a mandatory bio-security check that, as per South Georgia Government regulations, has to be carried out always before arriving to the island. We made sure that boots, parkas and all gear going ashore is clean and free of any organic matter so that no non-native species are introduced.

As these checks were done deck by deck, an IMAX film entitled “Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure”, narrated by Kevin Spacey, was shown in The Theatre for those that were waiting for the bio-security check.

After a Mexican lunch buffet (my favorite), Christian Walter entertained us with an informative lecture entitled “Shackleton’s Quest for the South Pole” where he told us about the life of The Boss and his various attempts to reach the South Pole.

At some point mid-afternoon as we were approaching Shag Rocks, we found whales as anticipated. For over an hour we witnessed a phenomenal whale display. It started with some Fin Whales at quite a distance, then a few humpbacks breaching and as we got closer to the rocks, we saw a mother Southern Right Whale with her calf, breaching and lolling about happily! It was extraordinary, not only because of the quality of the sightings, and the number of breaches, but also because these are whales that we rarely see on these cruises. Very few times in my years coming down south have I seen these gentle and graceful whales. It was a real treat.

At 5 pm, it was time to leave the whales alone and sail on, and so Uli Kunz gave a presentation entitled “Legends of the Deep” a fun and informative potpourri of facts about the world’s oceans, anecdotes and seaman’s yarns.

At 18:45 the Expedition Team hosted a Recap & Briefing where we talked about a variety of subjects and Robin introduced the plans for tomorrow in Salisbury Plain and Prion Island.
We do have a great plan for tomorrow; I really hope it comes together.