With sunrise at 0700 this morning, some chose to sleep in after a busy first evening onboard the Prince Albert II, while others headed out on deck to enjoy the early morning warmth with myself, Anibal and Rodrigo. It seemed today was going to be a perfect day to be out on deck keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife. With a slight breeze, clear skies and calm waters, it couldn’t get any better. With a few juvenile gulls spotted after about an hour, most headed into The Restaurant to sample their first breakfast onboard.
Just before 1000, Ignacio came over the intercom to announce our first lecture of the voyage by J.J., which was being held in the Panorama Lounge. J.J.’s talk was titled, “Birding 101: An introduction to tweetie-birds and the weird people that watch them”. He started with a demonstration of binoculars and their proper use for spotting moving birds easily. It is surprising how difficult it can be to place a small sea bird into your line of sight on a moving ship. With that, he explained birding, birders and why they are called “twitchers”. With the weather being so spectacular outside, it had been difficult to convince some of our guests to head inside to enjoy J.J.’s lecture, however upon their return to the outer decks they couldn’t believe they had considered passing it up.
Before I knew it, it was time to grab a quick bite of lunch before heading back out on deck for a few more hours of spotting. As the afternoon wore on, I was able to spot and point out – along with Anibal, Christian and Rodrigo – Red Phalarope, California Sea Lion, Northern Elephant Seal, a couple of sharks and a large pod of Common Dolphins who flirted briefly with bow riding before heading back to the school of fish they were feeding on. Unfortunately, by the time an announcement was made, they had passed out of sight, as so often is the case when you are not on deck. Minus a few minutes here and there I had spent from 0700 until 1600 on deck spotting wildlife and waiting for at least one blow from a whale. After so long on deck, I decided it was time to head to my suite and review my lecture for the next evening. I had sat on the edge of my bed for no more than 15 seconds when a call came out over the radio from our photographer Val, WHALE OFF THE PORT STERN!!!!
Murphy’s law… you wait and wait, and it all happens when you leave! A quick dash onto the outer decks and there in the distance it was. As Captain Fabien Roche turned the Prince Albert II to port, we kept an eye on the horizon for what seemed to be a very large whale. As we approached it surfaced directly in front of us and without a doubt it was a Blue Whale! Announcements were made, and soon after the decks were filled with guests. Nobody wanted to miss such an amazing opportunity to see the largest species to have ever lived on earth. With a population only at 2% of their pre-whaling numbers, a Blue Whale is a special sight. Suddenly, we realized that we were looking at two! We approached their position slowly as the larger of the two fluked on its dive. What a show they were putting on! During this dive I headed to the bridge and gave a few brief words on what we were seeing. We were able to spend over an hour with these two gentle giants close by. As we left the area, all our staff and guests gave a warm applause for our Captain and team on the bridge for a job well done.
With the show over and the ship returning to our original course, it was time to head to The Theatre for “European Voyages of Discovery”, a talk by Christian Walter. He discussed the reasons behind early European Voyages, what they found and who was looking. Shortly after, it was time for Captain Fabien Roche to welcome all onboard and introduce his senior staff. After a wonderful speech, all were invited into The Restaurant for another amazing meal. A perfect ending to a special day.