Day 2 |
Oct 19, 2009

At Sea, En Route To Peru

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: 05º 38.8 S, 081º 20.1 W

Weather: Blue sky with scattered clouds

Air Temperature: 18ºC

Sea Temperature: 17ºC

Pressure: 1017 hPa

Wind: Moderate breeze blowing from the SSW

Sea state: Heavy swell (4 to 5 meters)

Today was a nice day at sea.  Mellow and relaxing.  Ideal for wildlife spotting, reading, and enjoying our onboard lecture program, which went on in the morning.   I have always thought that a day at sea as the first day of a cruise is a good way to start. It provides the opportunity for our guests to relax and unwind from their journey, overcome the jet lag and to get their sea legs.

As the Prince Albert II sailed south last night, the water temperature dropped by 6 degrees in just a few hours, we knew then that we were in the Humboldt (or Peru) Current and that means good wildlife spotting from now on. This surface water current that runs in a south-north direction along the pacific coast of South America is fed by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and brings great amounts of nutrients and oxygen in its cold waters. It also produces coastal upwelling, which brings lots of “fish food” to the surface. 

Since the early hours of the morning Common Dolphins were around, in rather big numbers. Whales were seen as well throughout the whole day, Humpbacks breaching and even a blue whale was spotted.  Birds were also plentiful; we saw Blue footed Boobies, Red necked Phalaropes and particularly the Waved Albatross, a magnificent bird with an impressive wingspan that nests in the Galapagos Islands. A rather big male South American Sea Lion came to “check us out” at one point.

Juan José Apestegui started our lecture program at 09:30 with his talk entitled “Birding 101”.  In this lecture J.J. explained the reasons why birding is one of the fastest growing activities in the world, what gear is needed for its practice and gave us some techniques and tips to “bird” properly.  He also covered the main kinds of land birds that we are likely to see in this part of the world. 

At 10:45 our onboard archaeologist, Claire Allum, gave a lecture entitled “Not Just a Horror Story:  The Moche of Northern Peru”.  In this lecture Claire spoke about the Moche (or Mochica), a civilization that flourished on the North coast of Peru between AD 100 and AD 750.  This civilization for a long time was known for their beautiful and erotic pottery and metal work – plus some disturbing scenes painted on their pottery and walls. The Mochica have been the subject of recent studies which revealed that these horrific scenes of torture and sacrifice reflect what actually took place.

At 2:30 pm our Expedition Leader Robin West, presented a mandatory Zodiac Briefing on the use of our Zodiac landing crafts, followed by a destination briefing outlining the plans for tomorrow in Salaverry and the coach tours to the ruins of Chan Chan and the Temples of the Sun and the Moon. 

Afternoon Tea was served at 4 pm to the fine music of Lou, and at 7pm Captain Peter Stahlberg offered a Welcome Cocktail Party where he introduced his senior officers and gave a welcome speech. The Captain’s Welcome Dinner followed.