Coordinates: 6449’S, 6330’W
Cruising slowly throughout the night, we arrived at Port Lockroy at 0730, just in time to head ashore to pick up base manager Rick for breakfast and a quick talk about the base’s history. While the day was overcast, for the first time in awhile we had glassy calm water with no wind. Temperatures were a comfortable 0C (32F) with this lack of wind. All onboard joined Rick in The Theatre at 0800 while the Expedition Team headed ashore at both Port Lockroy and Jougla point, our two destinations for the morning.
In The Theatre, Rick explained about Base A, Operation Tabarin, and why he is here every Antarctic summer. During WWII, Britain had deciphered a German secret code. Not wanting Germany to know they had done this, it was decided to send a group to Antarctica for the purpose of watching for possible German activity. As the years passed, like so many bases in Antarctica, Base A began to fall apart. It was eventually decided it would be cleaned up and used as a museum for the BAS (British Antarctic Survey), and life in Antarctica. Rick and three others spend the summer in a small room together, while the rest of the building is set up for the museum and gift shop. All proceeds from the shop go to the upkeep of the base.
Our plan for the morning was to have Group 1 head to Port Lockroy, spending time in the museum and watching the Gentoos with their new chicks while Group 2 would head to Jougla Point. On Jougla Point, three Weddell Seals greeted us. Amongst the three was a small pup, young enough that his scratching was uncoordinated and awkward. With all eyes glued to these seals, we had not noticed another visitor to Jougla Point. Below us in the water along the edge of the point, sitting silently, was a small Elephant seal wiener. This little guy, born within the last month, had come all the way from South Georgia shortly after being weaned. With a quick switch, both groups changed locations, enjoying what the others had already seen, while some headed back to the Prince Albert II in search of some warmth.
After our lunch, we had time for a quick relax before joining Victoria Salem in The Theatre for her talk entitled “Shackleton”. Delving into the life of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the man and the myth, Victoria would take us on a wild ride through what was a series of unsuccessful expeditions, capping off with the Endurance expedition of 1914-1917. As we filtered from The Theatre it was easy to tell that those whom had had a previous opinion of the man may have been swayed, while others were excited to have learned more about the skilled leader.
With tea time fast approaching, the Panorama Lounge quickly began to fill as we all took leave from The Theatre before heading back to join Robin Aiello at 1600. Robin’s talk had been highly anticipated, as it was a story of her personal experience in Antarctica. Entitled “Life in Antarctica – a Summer of Diving Under the Ross Ice Shelf”, she would take us through science in the early 1990s and the story of her team spending three months camped in tents miles from the closest base. During this time, they would dive beneath the shelf hoping to document unidentified species of jellyfish that live under the shelf. Upon the completion of her lecture, it was apparent that all in attendance had many questions for her; they couldn’t get enough of her fascinating story.
With that, our day was almost complete. Briefing and recap with the Expedition Team followed, before our Venetian Society guests gathered for a cocktail party and dinner in celebration of their time with Silversea.
What will tomorrow bring...