Day 12 |
Jul 23, 2008

At Sea, Siglufjordur

By Tony Huntely, Marine Mammologist

Morning: At Sea

0800: 67°19.22’N 17°09.45’W

Afternoon: Siglufjordur 66°08.86’N, 018°54.19’W

After yesterday’s rough seas and canceled landing on Jan Mayen, it was pleasant for all to awake to gentle seas and sunny skies with thin clouds scattered about and a balmy 9°C air temperature. As some of us made our way to the Observation Lounge for a quick coffee before breakfast, we found several of our fellow guests already massed and watching Nanook of the North along with Tony Huntley and Brent Stephenson. At this time, Chris Srigley and Dick Filby had been scanning the horizon spotting Northern Fulmar, Puffins and a Greater Shearwater. It seemed it was a great start to what should be another exciting day onboard the Prince Albert II. We all put down our coffees and made our way to the dining room for another fantastic meal put together by the team in the galley.

Just past 0900, we had our first marine mammals of the day as some twenty odd White-beaked Dolphins came along and rode our bow for several minutes before moving on to more interesting things. At first there was some discussion amongst the staff as to the identification of the dolphins, however it was one great photo from Brent that put this discussion to an end.

Once our breakfast was done, one by one we filed into The Theatre for what was sure to be an interesting talk. Dr. Claudia Holgate was prepared to give us her lecture “The Ozone Hole Story, A Tale of Global Success”. Claudia would discuss the discovery of the Ozone Hole over the Polar region, reasons behind it and how the world’s community came together to overcome this potentially serious problem. However, only a short few minutes into her talk we were interrupted by our Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink announcing that a large group of White-beaked Dolphins and a yet unidentified whale had been spotted, and that the Prince Albert II was making straight for them. We all rushed on deck to find what may have been 100 or more of these Dolphins heading straight towards us, breaching and bow riding the ship. With our eyes trained, we picked up the whale again and found it was a Humpback Whale. Swirling in the air above, Northern Fulmars kept an eye on the situation in the water. It very evident that a feeding frenzy was on, our Humpback lunge-feeding while the Dolphins were bow riding along with us. As we rushed from Port to Starboard to Port to Starboard and back again several times to see the action taking place before our eyes, we could be certain that our Captain and crew on the bridge may have thought there was a herd of elephants about to come through the ceiling! Eventually it was time for us to return to our course and our return to The Theatre for the conclusion, well, start of Claudia’s talk. This time The Theatre was full as all had been on deck for this wonderful display.

Immediately at the end of Claudia’s lecture, our Geologist, Juan Carlos Restrepo began his talk, “Iceland Is Where The Action Is“. During his lecture Juan would talk about the beginnings of Iceland, the mid Atlantic ridge and what is occurring still today within the region. With the weather being so great today, it was decided that the hotel department would put on an ice carving demonstration just before lunch on the pool deck. We all arrived to see two swimming fish appear form the large block of ice. They did such an amazing job, we all lined up to take photographs!

Another amazing lunch was enjoyed by all, and then it seemed like some dropped away for a quick nap prior to our briefing for the next few days and our afternoon landing in Siglufjordur. Upon our arrival, being our first port of call in Iceland, we needed to have the Prince Albert II cleared by customs and then we were free to head out on the town. Siglufjordur was once a thriving operation during the Herring boom with a population close to 10,000, yet today has only a population of approximately 1300 people.

We disembarked and later met at 1645 in the park for a quick walk down to the Herring Museum where we were treated to a fantastic cultural reenactment of a Herring operation mixed in with some music and dancing. At the conclusion of the presentation, we were invited for a tasting of several types of herring along with some schnapps, which was greatly enjoyed by all. The museum consisted of three buildings that we were able to enjoy on our own. Last guest onboard was not until 2145, leaving us with plenty of time to enjoy this quaint Icelandic town. Some returned for dinner onboard while others remained in town to sample the local cuisine. Once all were onboard, we cast off and made for tomorrow’s landing at Akureyri!