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Day 12 - March 3, 2010 - Scotia Sea En Route From South Georgia To Antarctica

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 55° 96.8’S – 46° 03.1’W (Noon position)
Weather:  mostly overcast skies, some sun in afternoon
Pressure: 1012 hPa
Winds: Northwest Beaufort force 7
Seas: sea state 5
Air temperature: 3° C
Sea temperature: 4° C

The weather that greeted us this morning was significantly better than the day before. Most of us actually managed to sleep through the night instead of being tossed around all night like the night before. Skies were overcast in the morning, wandering albatrosses flew around the ship and some brief sightings of hourglass dolphins and humpback and fin whales were reported.

Shortly before 10 am, Expedition Leader Robin made an announcement that our published plans for the day would be changing and invited everyone into The Theatre for a briefing. The biosecurity checks scheduled for the morning were cancelled.

In the briefing Robin told us about the prognosis for the next few days. Due to the storm that had caused us to take a course straight to the west, and a forecast of yet another system scheduled to meet us on our way south, our proposed time in the Antarctic Peninsula was now looking very short. Down in this part of the world however, nature is the supreme master and ruler of us all, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. With good weather in the morning, we were flying at full speed south trying to make as much distance as possible while conditions were good. Robin prepared everyone for the possibility however of just one single landing in Antarctica. He mentioned that if we hadn’t left South Georgia half a day earlier than originally planned, even this one landing would now be in jeopardy and with the weather we have experienced we might have been heading straight back to Ushuaia at this point. But luckily we still have a chance of seeing something of Antarctica, so southwards we sped all day.

Later in the morning Stefan gave a talk on Volcanism in which he taught us about different kinds of volcanoes, their products and their sometimes interesting side effects.

In the afternoon, our lecture program continued with a talk from Will on penguins. The Antarctic Ocean is home to most of the world’s penguins – breeding on many of the small islands groups such as South Georgia as well as the Peninsula itself. Will’s talk looked at these fascinating creatures and the way they survive in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet.

The sun showed its face briefly in the afternoon, making teatime with guests in the Panorama Lounge quite pleasant.

Juan Carlos gave a talk entitled “Earth – What Lies Beneath” later in the afternoon. This “Geology 101” talk introduced us to basic terminology and concepts needed to understand geological features. Juan talked about the origin of the earth, types of rock, the internal structure of the planet as well as plate tectonics.
That evening the Venetian Society cocktail party that had been postponed from last night was held, which of course was followed by yet another wonderful and elegant dinner.

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