Day 6 |
Dec 26, 2009

At Sea Falkland Islands To South Georgia Island

By Peter W. Damisch, Historian & General Naturalist

Coordinates:   53° 31' S, 041° 37’ W

Weather: Overcast with calm seas

Air Temperature: + 2o C  ( 36o F )

Sea Temperature: + 7o C  ( 45o F )

Pressure: 993 Hpa

Wind: 25 Km / hour from Southwest

The sky was cloudy but daylight still streamed across the ship early this morning as I awoke after a very full experience of holiday cheer and lecture activities on the prior day. Then I remembered that we are at the height of summer where long hours of sunshine extend each new day with possibilities for exploration. 

The relatively calm seas resulted in a very smooth ride on the ship, which is making great speed in these pleasant conditions! Of course the continued good weather was a combination of several important factors including the Ship’s Captain and Expedition Leader who had worked together to slightly delay our departure from Stanley, Falkland Islands. This action has cleverly placed the Prince Albert II in between two strong weather fronts with resultant moderate wind and waves instead of storm conditions. However the primary reason for our good fortune is that on Day 1, at the suggestion of our Expedition Leader, the guests took responsibility for the weather and have done a great job! This has very nicely allowed the Expedition Team to focus on the landings!!

In addition, I couldn’t initially see the sky from my stateroom as the Prince Albert II is now within a very special biological zone that surrounds South Georgia Island, which is often described as the ‘Galapagos of the South’. As a result, everyone on board takes careful precautions in the evenings to close curtains across all windows to minimize light from the ship, which might inadvertently attract or distract the numerous species of birds that inhabit the area. I took an early walk around the ship, getting a chance to chat with some early risers as well as observing that thanks to all of our efforts, the ship did not end up with any stranded birds on board the outside decks. However, I did get to again enjoy the soaring and gliding of the magnificent albatross as it effortlessly flew around the ship.

Next, I wandered down for breakfast but had to be a bit more careful than usual after somewhat over indulging during the previous day Holiday Feast. Just one of the great things about being on the Expedition Team is that I get the wonderful opportunity to interact with such a wide variety of international guests, all of whom have tremendously interesting backgrounds and diverse travel experiences. Many have had a long-time desire to visit the Antarctic with some remarking how lucky they were to be able to book a voyage on the Prince Albert II whose Antarctic season has almost been fully sold out for some time.

In late morning, I made sure I was outside as we approached Shag Rocks. This is an area well known to Silversea as a likely place for spotting whales and with many guests were out on deck with cameras and binoculars. Our hopes were rewarded by two lengthy encounters with the ‘leviathans of the deep’. The Captain slowed the ship and we were able to thoroughly enjoy these enormous and gentle animals swimming slowly along the surface before sending their flukes into the air in preparation for a great dive to the depths of the ocean.

Another great advantage of being a part of the Expedition Team is that I also get the chance to attend all of the educational lectures given by my colleagues. Today, Marylou Blakeslee started off the morning with a great presentation titled “Limits on the Limitless: Krill in the Southern Ocean”. With intelligence, wit and humor, Marylou succinctly reviewed all of the key features regarding this fundamental portion of the Antarctic food chain.