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Day 5 - February 26, 2010 - Scotia Sea En Route From The Falklands To South Georgia

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 52° 10.3’S – 53° 11.4’W (Noon position)
Weather: mostly overcast skies
Pressure: 1007
Winds: Southwest Beaufort force 8
Seas: still interesting, sea state 7, swell from the south
Temperature: 2° C

The rocking and rolling of the ship during the night eased only slightly by morning, and many people stayed in bed most of today still suffering from sea-sickness. It was hard to sleep because of the motion of the ship during last night.

Due to the rough conditions the plans for the morning were changed. On the schedule had been a mandatory IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) briefing as well as biosecurity checks and cleaning, but as too many people were feeling unwell, this was postponed to a later date.

Malindi, our photographer, gave a talk on photography techniques and explained in detail how to use f-stops, aperture settings, speed and other functions in order to take better pictures. She talked also about composition and showed us some beautiful photos as examples of what to aim for and what to look for, and inspired us to experiment and try harder when using our cameras.

The one nice thing about the strong winds is that we had quite a few beautiful wandering albatrosses around the ship for most of the day. These magnificent birds with the largest wingspan of any bird in the world thrive in windy conditions where they do not have to flap their wings at all for constant propulsion. They soar over the water swooping low over the waves and catching updrafts for lifting them high again. They circled around the Prince Albert II and frequently flew quite close to the windows of The Restaurant or lounges where we could see them nicely. In such severe and nasty weather it was wonderful to look outside into the spray and wind and gray skies and see these elegant and beautiful birds soaring so peacefully over the stormy seas.

One other wildlife sighting that a few people enjoyed was when a small group of hourglass dolphins rode in the wake next to the ship for a few moments. We could see the white hourglass shape on their sides clearly in the gray water as they leaped and swam sending spray in their wake.

In the afternoon the lecture program continued with a talk from Juan about the birds of South Georgia. He talked about the 2 endemic species as well as all the other interesting seabirds that nest on this remote island in the middle of the Scotia Sea, including many of the albatross species and the threats that they face from rats and fisheries.

Later in the afternoon Peter our historian gave a talk on Shackleton, his life and expeditions, with the highlight being his epic Endurance adventure in the Weddell Sea. Gradually the winds died down and the seas became just a bit calmer than they had been in the morning.

After another Recap & Briefing from the expedition staff it was time for yet another wonderful dinner and the end to a somewhat bumpy day.

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