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Day 12 - October 24, 2010 - Claire Allum, Archaeologist/Anthropologist

By Claire Allum, Archaeologist/Anthropologist

Weather: Windy, warm for being at sea on the Humboldt Current and sunny with cloudy periods

The ship was rolling gently as I made my way up to the Observation Lounge at 6:30 am for a large cup of Colombian coffee and a danish. We had lost an hour at midnight and had put our clocks forward one hour the evening before. I needed the coffee to wake up. I picked up an issue of “The Canadian” a synopsis of news from Canadian newspapers provided by Silversea. There was an outbreak of cholera in Haiti. It made me reflect on how lucky I was in my life and how fortunate everyone on the ship was.

At 9:45 am Robin Aiello gave a talk on her favourite creatures, sharks and rays. I could hear the passion in her voice as she related stories from her 30 years of experience working with them. Her talk followed a recap she had given the evening before on Megalodon, a huge shark that lived 3 million years ago. Brigitte and several guests had bought fossilized Megalodon teeth at the Paracas market. At the end of her presentation she showed a short video of an octopus killing a small shark. It made rethink my attitude towards the northern Atlantic octopus that tried to remove my mask and pull out my regulator when I was scuba diving off Vancouver Island.

Just before lunch I watched a demonstration by Pastry Chef Remy L Goff in the Panorama Lounge. I realized he was responsible for the cinnamon rolls with vanilla icing I had become addicted to at breakfast. Our Executive Chef Anna-Maria then talked about what it was like “behind the scenes” on the Prince Albert II. She suggested that the great diversity of nationalities of the crew made producing crew meals even more difficult to produce than meals for the guests.

After lunch, as Brigitte was about to give a 2:00 pm lecture on hummingbirds, Chris Srigley announced over the crew radios that he’d seen a pod of sperm whales ahead. Robin West took the call and immediately contacted the Bridge. Within minutes Captain Peter Stahlberg made an announcement that the Prince Albert II would turn and head towards them.

Guests poured onto the outer decks to take photographs. It was a spectacular sight as the huge creatures broke the ocean surface puffing out air and spray. I took the best photograph I have ever taken of a whale breaching, although I wasted at least fifty to get it. Brigitte eventually gave her lecture, but only after the pod of whales left us. Her passion for hummingbirds matched Robin’s for sharks.

At 4:15 pm Team Trivia was held in the Panorama Lounge. I was able to help the Expedition Team win the contest by suggesting the answers: Edward Teach, Saint Andrews and “pigs and horses” can get sun burnt. Just before the end, Captain Peter Stahlberg announced that a strange mass of birds ahead feeding on something on the ocean surface.

Once again everyone scattered onto the outer decks. It was a sad sight. Two decomposing sperm whales, a mother and calf, were tangled in fishing net. The Captain sent GPS coordinates and photographs of the disaster to both the Chilean and Peruvian marine authorities.

Just before recap, I gave a lecture on the Chinchorro mummies we are going to see at the San Miguel Archaeology Museum tomorrow. The day ended with a spectacular sunset visible through the port windows of The Theatre. Our relaxing day at sea had been a lot more action-packed than I had expected it to be.

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