Day 5 |
Nov 18, 2008

At Sea, Between Falkland Islands And South Georgia

By Rob Suisted

Position: 52° 30.4’ N and 50° 12.8’ W

We’re being blessed with great seas this morning. Sea state is dropping back and white caps are no longer predominant. This means great whale spotting.

Out on deck just after breakfast, our first customer for the morning… a dark shape not far off the bow materializes into a 6+metre leviathan – probably a southern bottlenose whale that scarpers from the ship. A few keen guests are up early and witness the mad spectacle of naturalists and birders pouncing on ‘binos’ and cameras.

We’re travelling over very deep sea with over 3000 metres of water under the keel. This is the domain of the deepwater specialist cetaceans, especially the rare and little known members of the beaked whale families. It is little wonder that shortly later we surprise 4 more, most likely Arnoux’s beaked whales lying together like ‘sardines in a tin’ on the surface. More guests about now, and many get a good view. This was followed not long after by the sighting of the beautiful and not often seen Hourglass dolphins, the chubby little black and white dolphin that carries the distinctive hourglass marking on its side. ‘Cruciger’ is its Latin species name, ‘the cross carrier’.

During the day we had three lectures by specialists onboard. Firstly, Juan Restrepo gave us a comprehensive lecture on geology focusing on the terminology we’ll be using, and the geological processes we’ll be experiencing. Later, Dr Gennadi Milinevsky told us of research being carried out into climate change on the peninsula, and of his extensive time at the Ukranian Faraday-Vernadsky Station.

Onboard we are currently carrying Richard McKee, an official from the Government of South Georgia, who is visiting the islands. He gave us a comprehensive lecture about the management of South Georgia, covering the fisheries, tourism, human activity and natural environment.

Further Hourglass dolphins were seen by many in the afternoon before Vanja, the Head Sommelier ran an onboard wine seminar for those interested.

We’re heading to bed tonight after a beautiful sunset with very calm seas. The prospect is for more of the same weather tomorrow for our sea day – even better whale watching we think. Yippee!