Day 6 |
Nov 30, 2011

At Sea 

By Michaela Mayer, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 38° 31’ 39’’ W, 53° 40’43’’ S
Weather: temperate, partly cloudy with blue sky
Air Temperature: 7° C / 35,8 F
Sea Temperature: 2,1° C
Pressure: 992 hPa
Wind: 21,9 km/h

We had an early yet exciting start at Shag Rocks this morning. At first they were only a blip on the horizon, but of course they grew closer. Meanwhile, Antarctic fur seals swam by the boat, and I was happy to see some of my underwater creatures. I wanted to ask the Captain to turn the boat around for jellyfish viewing, but decided it would be better to simply take a picture. Other guests were excited about seeing the first snow petrel. Then we saw a blow!

I was not sure at first what species of whale it was, but my pictures proved that it was a blue whale. That tiny dorsal fin and mottled skin is unmistakable. There were also other animals around, although they didn’t stay at the surface long, but a humpback whale and perhaps a right whale were also near Shag Rocks. Obviously this is a very productive spot, with the sea floor rising steeply and bringing lots of nutrients to the surface.

One cool thing we noticed is that our viewing of the snow petrels at Shag Rocks are north of what the guidebooks say they should be. According to the books, they should be “always south” of 55 degrees latitude and “only in association with the pack ice”, but we were at 53 degrees in open seas.

On we went toward South Georgia, spending our day learning more about the history and animals of the Southern Ocean. I spent many hours on the stern photographing light-mantled sooty albatrosses and snow petrels as they flew around the ship. It was quite nice.

I almost forgot! We also saw our first iceberg this morning—it was just a little white glow on the horizon, but soon we will see more.