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Day 3 - February 11, 2010 - Drake Passage

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 59 45’S – 61 59’W (Noon position)
Weather:  sunny
Temperature: -1° C
Wind: 48 kmph
Pressure: 979

Much calmer sea conditions greeted us this morning, although the ship was still doing a bit of its rock-and-roll dance in the Drake Passage. Many who had felt too seasick to be up and about the day before managed to come outside and roam around the ship, and The Restaurant and Theatre were not so empty.

Today was another full day at sea as we continued on our way south. The winds were calm and the seas much milder than yesterday, however not much was seen in terms of wildlife. Some birds were sighted during the course of the day – a wandering albatross, a few black-browed albatrosses, some cape petrels, Wilson’s storm petrels and giant petrels. One very brief sighting of some hourglass dolphins was also observed.

The day began with a biosecurity cleaning session. To avoid the incidental introduction of non-native plant species or disease organisms into Antarctica, all outer gear had to be brought to the mudroom area to be vacuumed clean, and boots, walking sticks and tripod legs scrubbed. After this, our first lecture of the day was a talk from Peter, our historian, who gave an introduction to the early discovery and exploration of Antarctica and the way the continent slowly was revealed to the brave human souls who first ventured south in search of new lands.

The second talk of the day in the afternoon was given by Will, the bird man, who talked about penguins by introducing the various families of penguins found around the world, and giving in-depth details as to their lifecycle and the way they survive. He talked about key features to help identify the species found most frequently on these trips to the peninsula, and explained their behavior.

Later in the afternoon, Robin, our Expedition Leader, gave us a destination briefing outlining our plans for the following day, which was followed by various staff members contributing to a recap in which they gave bits of information pertinent to the day as well as upcoming events.

In the evening we gathered once more in The Theatre for our Captain’s welcome cocktail party, which had been postponed from yesterday due to the weather conditions. We met the Captain and he in turn introduced the staff captain, doctor, hotel director and chief engineer. This was followed by an excellent welcome dinner.

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