Day 4 |
Feb 12, 2009

Stanley, Falkland Islands

By Claudia Holgate

Weather: 12 degrees Celsius, Wind between 4 and 25 knots, Pressure 989hPa, 64% humidity

Co-ordinates: 51 41'30''South, 057 51'24'' West

We woke up this morning to a clear day with a fairly strong wind. However, we had anchored in the sheltered bay of Stanley harbour, the capital of the Falkland Islands, so our Zodiac operations were not jeopardised in any way by the wind. Once cleared by Customs, we had a Zodiac shuttle to the shore where everyone could spend their time at leisure in the colourful little town. A shuttle bus met us at the jetty to take us to the Britannia House museum, about 10 blocks down the main street. This is a really neat museum with a bit of everything, from the Natural history of the Islands, to artefacts and historical displays of the two World Wars and the 1982 conflict, as well as displays of life on the islands in the 1930s.

After exploring the museum, most of us decided not to take the shuttle back to the jetty but rather to walk along the promenade and enjoy the scenery, with houses on the one side and the sea on the other. We had the opportunity to pass by the Governor’s house, as well as the Christ Church Cathedral, which is a fairly small church by cathedral standards, but has beautiful stained glass windows and many plaques on the walls, giving it a great sense of history. Next to the Cathedral is the whalebone arch, which is made up of four jawbones of a blue whale and makes us realise how large these creatures of the ocean are, as the jawbones are almost twice the height of us standing under the arch.

This being the only real shopping opportunity meant that the gift shops were well frequented and everyone came away with gifts and souvenirs of the trip before heading back to the ship for the next part of our voyage down to South Georgia.

The excitement for the day, however, had not finished as there were a few of the Commerson’s dolphins playing around the Zodiacs and giving us a fabulous view by escorting us back to the ship. They are such small beautiful dolphins, that some of us wished we could just pack them up and take them home with us (Although, I don’t know what housekeeping would think of a dolphin in the suite, although I am sure our executive chef, Sean could whip up some raw fish for them). In the end, we enjoyed their presence and carried on with our shuttle to the ship.

Once we had all embarked back onto our fabulous little ship, we hung around on the outer decks watching as we sailed out of the harbour and through the narrows, which, in themselves, are quite a feature and worth the photo opportunity. Not long after, when we thought we could sit down and enjoy another lovely lunch, we had the call from Chris, the Ornithologist, “Whales ahead”. Everybody came rushing back out to the open decks to the sight of a fin whale ahead of the ship. The fin whale is the second largest whale, at up to 25m long and up to 70 tons in weight, and it was a real treat to see, even though one doesn’t really get a sense of its size from the ship. While watching the whale we were treated to more dolphins right next to the ship. This time they were Peale’s dolphins, another special of the area. Everybody was absolutely delighted by our sightings today and eventually filtered back inside to enjoy the lunch they were hungering for.

After the mandatory siesta, Heidrun Oberg, our German Speaking biologist, gave a talk on South Georgia for the German-speaking guests, covering an introduction to the wildlife and a little history of the islands. After tea, I gave the next lecture on climate change and the global carbon experiment. My lecture provided many facts on climate change, as well as how it is impacting Antarctica and the Sun-Antarctic Islands.

Our recap and briefing followed at 6:45pm, with a little more information on the places we had visited and the birds and mammals that we had seen, and this of course was followed by another delectable meal in The Restaurant. Just another superb day on the Prince Albert II!