Voyage Journal 7106 Day 6

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Day 6 - March 8, 2011 - At sea

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 53º37’S, 40º25’W
Weather: clear to foggy in the afternoon
Air Temperature: 4,5
Pressure: 1007
Wind: 25km/h


I am sure nobody had any idea what was in store for us when we woke up today. The day started as any other day at sea, with a leisurely breakfast and the calmest conditions I had ever seen in crossing from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia. There was barely a swell, almost no wind and even guests who are vulnerable to sea sickness had absolutely no problem.

I gave a lecture at 10am entitled “Island of Kings: An introduction to South Georgia” where I covered all aspects of South Georgia from the discovery and whaling and sealing history to the physical environment and finally to the animals and birds that we are likely to see on the island. The lecture had just finished when we spotted whales off the Starboard side. Unfortunately they were moving away from the ship, but I was certain they were Fin Whales, the second largest whale species in the world.

I went downstairs to get my parka and binoculars to go and lookout for wildlife on the Bridge, when the call came down from Robin that they had spotted some more whales and we had good sightings of two more Fin Whales with their white right mandible clear in the water. (The right jawbone is white and the left dark, which assists in corralling prey.) I stayed up on the Bridge, watching Slender-billed Prions, Soft plumaged Petrels, Black bellied Storm Petrels and Wandering Albatrosses sweeping past the ship.

At 11h30 Robin Aiello, our marine biologist, gave a lecture on life in icy waters, detailing the adaptations that marine animals have in order to live in cold conditions. Everyone always enjoys the enthusiasm with which Aiello gives her lectures and we always learn a lot.

The Bridge was a busy place today with Expedition Team members scouring the ocean for signs of life. We were to arrive at Shag Rocks at about 2pm and there is always an upwelling with the shallower water that results in many creatures being brought to the surface and attracting cetaceans. During the early afternoon we had a couple of schools of Hourglass Dolphins come hurtling through the waves past the ship, but they had no interest in slowing down for a visit.

I started the movie “South”, from the Original Frank Hurley footage of Shackleton’s endurance expedition and no sooner had we started when we had the call for whales. The movie stopped and everyone rushed outside to see what had been spotted. The blows were huge, the animal was huge, wait there was more than 1, there were 3 (!) Blue Whales a hundred metres or so away from the ship. What a sight! The largest animal ever to have lived and here we had three, and what an exceptional sighting. Will, our ornithologist, was over the moon, as he had never seen one and it was a first for most of the guests. What a treat! As the whales moved on, we headed back into The Theatre to finish the movie. The team trivia that was scheduled for today had to be postponed. Luke Kenny, our fisheries scientist, did get the opportunity to do his talk though on the fisheries of the Southern Ocean.

Recap & Briefing was held at 18h45, where our exciting day was discussed and Robin told us what was in store for tomorrow: three landings in one day. It will be a fantastic day if the weather stays as calm as it is.

Finally off to another super dinner in The Restaurant and slowly as the evening comes to a close, everyone can gather up in the Panorama Lounge for a night cap while relaxing to Perry’s music. Days at sea on the Prince Albert II are never dull.

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