Day 15 |
Feb 23, 2009

At Sea En Route To Ushuaia

By Peter W. Damisch, Historian and Naturalist

Noon Position: 60° 42'S , 065° 34'W

Weather: Sunshine in the Drake Passage is such a treat! We have a nice air temperature of + 5o C (41o F) with a bit of wind at 75 Km / hour

We are still in waters covered by the Antarctic Treaty and still South of the biological boundary of the cold current of the Antarctic Convergence. However, we are streaking to the North while sharing memories of our adventures in the Sub-Antarctic Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Many of us exchanged pictures and have also been admiring the previews of still images and video of our voyage that have been displayed on the ship's entertainment system.

As usual, there is not only time to reminisce with friends but also the opportunity to continue marvelling at the unique environment that we have had the privilege to experience. During the day, most of us utilized the Observation Deck or Panorama Lounge to take in outstanding views of soaring sea birds and the wide ocean waters travelled by many explorers before us. We remember not only the many species of penguins and seals observed, but also marvel at the opportunity to visit so many special locations that were only just explored for the first time less than 100 years ago by individuals such as Jean-Baptiste Charcot, Otto Gustaf Nordenskjöld or Carl Anton Larsen.

Of course, no day at sea would be complete without a wide range of optional enrichment activities from our outstanding group of Naturalists on the Expedition Team. Claudia, our Environmentalist, started out the morning with an outstanding presentation titled “The Ozone Hole Story - a Tale of Global Success”. She was able to give us a comprehensive insight of this important issue from the initial discovery of the problem by scientists in the Antarctic to the global response and current status of resolution.

Chris, our Geologist, followed up with a wonderful, first-hand and personal account regarding his research in the Antarctic titled “My Life with Dogs”. This informative and humorous tale (or was that tail?) related what it was like to work and live with 4-footed workers in the Antarctic through cold mornings and feeding, while sledging to work over 400+ miles of terrain studded with deep crevasses in the glacial snow. Filled with great pictures, this was a lecture not to be missed!

After a pleasant lunch break with so many delicious options that it was difficult to choose, our Marine Mammal Expert Andrew provided a fascinating analysis titled “Endurance Tactics”. This energetic topic discussed the wide array of adaptations that Antarctic animals have evolved to ensure their existence in one of the most extreme environments on Earth. Tea time, another one of many Prince Albert II daily favourite options, followed with many treats available to tide us over for the remainder of the afternoon.

Heidrun, one of our World Class Naturalists on board, presented a great program titled “Vergleich Antarktis - Arktis” which provided outstanding comparisons between the two polar environments and animals existing on opposite sides of the globe. She was able to expand our knowledge regarding many of the important differences between these similar but completely different locations, both of which are visited by the uniquely qualified bridge team of the ice strengthened Prince Albert II.

During our daily recap of events early this evening, the Expedition Team presented new material and answered questions across a broad variety of subjects spanning everything from ornithology, movement of magnetic poles, dog commands and history.

Our wonderful day was perfectly capped off by another eagerly awaited visit to The Restaurant where we are always pleasantly surprised by the delightful meals conjured up by the outstanding galley staff. We watched the sun set over the Drake Passage as we continued north towards Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel and ultimately the picturesque town of Ushuaia, Argentina, wishing that anyone reading this journal would have had the joy and privilege of participating in this voyage, which experienced so many wonderful locations.