Day 15 |
Sep 30, 2012

At Sea

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 05° 03’ N – 09° 38’ W
Weather: sunny and clear
Air temperature: 20° C
Wind: 10 knots from Southwest
Pressure: 1014 hPa

A relaxing day at sea today afforded everyone a chance to sleep in, catch up on sorting through photos, soak up some sun on the outer decks and enjoy the onboard activities. The sun shone and the seas were glassy and calm and it was yet again another wonderful day.

The lecture program started at 10 am with Hans-Peter giving us a talk about the tropical rainforests of Africa. This fascinating talk gave us insight into the ecology of this unique ecosystem that covers nearly the whole basin of the Congo River and a strip along the coast of West Africa. He talked about animals and plants unique to this ecosystem and threats that it faces.

Later in the morning our head sommelier Javier invited everyone into the Panorama Lounge for a demonstration about how to make some nice liqueurs such as Limoncello as well as Uruguayan Grappa Miel. The limoncello was soaking nicely and the Grappa demonstration had just started when he was interrupted by the call that whales had been spotted in front of the ship. Everyone rushed outside to spend time admiring a small group of short-finned pilot whales with some bottlenosed dolphins amongst them. They were moving slowly and mostly resting at the surface of the water, which gave us a chance for the Captain to turn the ship to maneuver in order to keep them close to the ship for everyone to see. We had a really great look at them and they came within a few meters of the side of the ship for all to see. The curved dorsal fins and rounded heads of the bigger pilot whales were very visible. The smaller grey bottlenosed dolphins with their sharply pointed dorsal fins swam a bit more quickly and surfaced now and then at the side of this group. These 2 species are often seen together.

Eventually they moved on and our Captain turned the ship back on course. People trickled back inside to rejoin poor Javier who had been deprived of his audience during the whale encounter, and the Grappa making demonstration continued.

After lunch the next lecture was from Stefan who gave us a look at what happened during the last 4.56 billion years. The geological methods for collecting data to reconstruct earth’s history were described.

Patri hosted the afternoon’s Team Trivia in the Panorama Lounge during tea time with questions about birds and a few South American trivia questions thrown in as well.

And the last lecture of the day was from Christian (Rapa) about the very interesting and colorful coffins used during the last 50 years in Ghana. He described how they fit into Ghanaian religion and customs and we marveled at the intricate and creative designs that included a coke bottle, an eggplant, a tomato and even a cell phone.

As usual, just before dinner we gathered once more for our evening Recap & Briefing and then headed off to The Restaurant for yet another marvelous dinner.