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Day 10 |
Dec 19, 2009

At Sea Through Drake Passage

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 57 o 20’ 13”S 64o 23’ 43”W

Weather: Calm partly overcast conditions

Air Temperature: 4.5 C

Pressure:983HPa

Wind:70 km/h Northerly wind

Today being our first full day at sea crossing the notorious Drake Passage, meant that we could sleep in a bit and have a later breakfast than usual. Our first activity for the day was a lecture by Victoria Salem on the Antarctic Treaty. The Antarctic Treaty has been a subject of many conversations so far this trip as it has a major bearing on our operations and many guests have wanted to know more about the treaty and how it affects tourism operations, mining and who actually owns Antarctica. The Prince Albert II falls under the Antarctic treaty system and has to provide Environmental impact studies and disaster/emergency management plans. Victoria’s lecture covered all of this as well as who the treaty signatories are and the significant articles of the Treaty.

The second lecture this morning was given by Marylou on Plate Tectonics, where she started off telling us about the history of the plate tectonics theory and moved onto the theory as now accepted. She gave an excellent explanation of the movement of continental plates and how this has changed over millions of years to the current configuration. One of the ways we know this is by fossils that have been found on Antarctica, India and Africa, which are all the same, and which prove that the continents were once all joined up.

The weather outside was so good that the Captain implored everyone to go outside to enjoy it. There were calls for Light Mantled Sooty Albatross, which is one of my favourite birds of the Southern Ocean. Also seen were Grey headed and Wandering Albatross and Rich “Mad dog” Kirchner saw a Fin Whale at a distance. Unfortunately, I eventually had to go inside to eat some lunch before preparing for my lecture on the Ozone hole.

Shortly after lunch, I had the early afternoon lecture where I chatted about the Ozone hole and its discovery. I think the thinning of the Ozone hole is one of the major issues for Antarctica as it has many impacts on the Antarctic ecosystem. Every time I go outside while in the Antarctic I always wear the highest factor sunblock and I encourage all our guests to do the same. The lecture covers the formation and destruction of the Ozone layer in the stratosphere and the history of its discovery. The crux of the lecture is that with the global efforts to stop the production of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) through the Montreal Protocol, I can detail the tale of global success in addressing a major environmental problem and perhaps we can learn from this concerted effort in addressing the challenge of global climate change.

Later this afternoon, our sommelier, Padrag gave a very interesting seminar on food and wine pairing, which left everyone who attended much wiser on the intricacies of which wine is best with which food.

Tonight is our Captain’s farewell cocktail party, as always a great event where everyone gets to show off their finest clothes. This is followed by the farewell dinner, where our executive chef, Douglas Hope, prepared his best fare to make us all wish that we could stay a little longer on this wonderful ship.

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