2m seas with overcast skies
After the early morning start yesterday we were looking forward to a relaxing day at sea today. Thankfully, we had calm seas all day long today in the Drake Passage. The guests were kept busy though with a series of lectures. I was first up, and spoke about my experiences diving and living on the Ross Sea side of Antarctica as part of a research team that was diving under the sea ice looking for jellyfish. I shared all the ‘nitty-gritty truth’ about what it is like to live in tents for four months on the ice with little access to civilization or the comforts of home. I described the beauty and dangers of diving under the ice and encountering Antarctica’s wildlife up close and personal. The guests seemed to be on the edge of their seats during one part of my story when I described a close encounter with a leopard seal that decided to come up the same diving hole that I was about to go down!
The next lecture for the day was presented by Dr. Gennadi Millinevski, and entitled “The Ozone Hole”. Dr. Gennadi explained how and why ozone holes form and why they can be so large over Antarctica. He showed several animations of how the ozone layer fluctuates seasonally. A very upsetting fact that he gave us was that the ozone hole this year was one of the largest ever recorded!!!
After lunch, Chris Harbard, our birder, introduced us to the world of the giant birds – the Albatrosses – in his lecture entitled “From Mollymawks to Goonies”. We learned about the special adaptations that these birds have for spending months and years flying at sea without ever landing. After the lecture, the guests were all keen to get back out on deck to look at these magnificent birds as they soared beside the ship, and to use our new identification skills.
At 5pm, the Expedition Team presented one of their last Recap & Briefing sessions. Chris Srigley took us on a journey to the opposite end of the world – the Arctic. He gave a fantastic presentation about the opportunities and destinations that can be experienced in the Arctic – a bit of a highlight for those of us considering joining the Prince Albert II again in June/July for its Arctic season.
Finally, in the evening, as part of the New Year’s Eve celebrations, we joined Captain Peter in The Theatre for a cocktail party, followed by the Farewell Dinner in The Restaurant.
After dinner, we had a choice of two New Year’s Eve celebrations – a party in the Panorama Lounge accompanied by the beautiful piano playing of Adam, and a disco in The Theatre on Deck 6. What a perfect way to end not only this amazing Antarctic expedition, but also the year 2008!!!
Happy New Year from the Prince Albert II Expedition Team!!
We hope to see you traveling with us in 2009!!!