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Day 8 - March 16, 2010 - At Sea, On Route To South Georgia

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Weather: Overcast, below freezing with scattered flurries

As we continued to sail northeast from the Antarctic Peninsula towards South Georgia, the Southern Ocean kept its reputation intact. Through the night and well into this morning we dipped amongst the waves as the Prince Albert II held course.

With another day at sea ahead, our guests would be kept busy between our South Georgia bio securities check and the scheduled lectures. Having been ashore, we would need more time to inspect their clothing as compared to our approach to Antarctica where 90% of their gear was clean or brand new.

Allowing for a sleep-in, our day’s activities did not begin until 10:00 when we called Decks 4 and 5 down to Reception for cleaning. Robin, Jarda, Nicki, Juan C, Juan B, Hans-Peter, Malindi, Peter and I looked after the guests while Kara gave her presentation ‘An Introduction to South Georgia’ to our guests from Decks 3 and 7.

Leaving time for Kara to finish up with her first go of it, we swapped the decks around. 3 and 7 joined us in the mud room while 4 and 5 headed up to The Theatre for their chance to hear Kara’s presentation.

As the lunch hour approached, we had completed all of our checks and we packed everything away. Everyone had done such a wonderful job of keeping his or her gear clean that we just may have finished in record time!

Most had recovered from feeling ill yesterday and enjoyed lunch in The Restaurant. Finishing quickly, I headed to the Bridge to see what was around the ship. Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatross circled the ship effortlessly as Diving Petrels and Antarctic Prions skimmed across the tops of the waves in search of their next meal.

By 1400 when Peter was to begin Part II of his talk “Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer” the seas had dropped, but only slightly. It was enough however that The Theatre was once again full; nobody wanted to miss this intriguing topic presented in such a knowledgeable and passionate way. Peter truly knows his topic and his presentation is a joy for everyone to listen to.

Once Peter had finished, the Prince Albert II quickly became a ghost town. Guests vanished to their suites for an afternoon nap. With everything so quiet, I joined the officer and AB (able-bodied seamen) of the watch on the Bridge to keep an eye on what may be passing us by.

A Blue Petrel teased us quickly with its presence before dropping behind the swell and disappearing from site. Juvenile Wandering Albatross flirted with the ships railings in almost a game of chicken while Antarctic Fur Seals leapt from the sea around us. In the distance, a Light-Mantle Sooty Albatross crossed our bow before vanishing into the approaching flurries.

It was now time to head back to The Theatre to join Juan Barnett for his talk ‘The Mighty Albatross’. One of the most magnificent creatures on earth, the family of Albatross’s is an amazing group. Juan introduced us to this species and their astonishing lives. As everyone left The Theatre it seemed as though he had left all with a new respect for the birds they had been seeing around the Prince Albert II over the last week.

During Juan’s lecture, I (as is so often the case) couldn’t help but continue to peer out of the windows in search of the species around us. Searching the horizon I quickly spotted four blows in the distance. Slipping away I headed to the Bridge to take a better look. It took some time but I was able to identify four Fin Whales heading in the opposite direction. Although we wouldn’t stop to view them, it was another species for our species list, adding to the already productive day for the species list.

With some time away from The Theatre, everyone went about their business. Some enjoyed a cocktail in the Panorama Lounge while others relaxed in their suites before returning to The Theatre to join Robin for a quick briefing on our plans for tomorrow and his presentation on the Prince Albert II story. Always a topic of question amongst our guests, it was well received. Once Robin was done, the questions continued to the point that he needed to stop as The Restaurant was awaiting our arrival.

With an anticipated arrival in South Georgia early tomorrow afternoon, a buzz filled the air. It was time for the next chapter in our southern ocean adventure to begin. The Theatre emptied and The Restaurant filled quickly as we were all keen to discuss the events of the last week and speculate on the coming days.

Would South Georgia be what the talk was all about!? We would have to wait to find out!

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