Day 1 - December 8, 2010 - Ushuaia and Beagle Channel, Argentina

By Mike Sylvia: General Naturalist specializing in Ornithology

Co-ordinates: 55˚06’ S, 66˚31’ W
Weather: Partly cloudy with Westerly winds
Air Temperature: 4.1 C, 39.4 F
Sea Temperature: 8.0 C, 46.4 F
Pressure: 975 hPa
Wind: 51.7 km/h

For this voyage I was lucky to be assigned to the welcome committee and greet the guests as they arrived. I enjoy seeing the faces of the new explorers as they get closer to their adventure. This group is very enthusiastic. I look forward to showing them the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands and the wildlife that lives there.

The lines were cast off at 1900 and Captain Peter Stahlberg took the ship away from the Port of Ushuaia. Shortly after sailing, the first briefings were started. Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink summoned all of the guests and staff to The Theatre to attend the Mandatory Safety Briefing. Shortly after the briefing I was introduced to the guests along with my fellow Expedition Team members.

With these duties completed and all of our guests getting used to their new surroundings, I decided to take another tour of the decks after dinner. The skies were partly cloudy with the sun low getting ready to set. The light was intense and illuminating the newly snow covered mountains along the Beagle Channel. A fishing boat was anchored along the shoreline adding to the scene its bright red hull and white upper decks gleaming in the light.

The action on deck was not only limited to the light show. I was also there to witness a very exciting show of interactive feeding among some coastal bird species. South American Terns, King Shags, Chilean Skua, and Magellanic Penguins in the hundreds were diving and catching small silver bait fish.

My day ended with a trip to the Panorama Lounge to enjoy a nightcap with a few of our new guests.