''Explorer's Africa'' Voyage 7107 Day 13

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Day 13 - April 6, 2011 - At sea

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 04°12´N, 04°35´E
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 29 C

After a beautiful day on the islands of Principe and Bom Bom, the Prince Albert II was on its way to our next stop in West Africa: Cotonou in Benin. Good weather and calm seas were the factors that characterized this day at sea.

There was not too much to see outside, even our birder on board Will Wagstaff was a little bit disappointed by the lack of seabirds. Only some species like Sooty Tern, Cory’s Shearwater and a new species for the list, the Madeiran Petrel, were observed by Will.

The activities for our guests started earlier this morning. At 9.30 our marine biologist Robin Aiello was talking about the “The Marine Turtles of West Africa”. She gave an overview about biology and the amazing adaptations of these animals to their water world. The presentation also had a special focus on the turtles along the West African coast, where just recently scientists have discovered one of the largest leatherback turtle colonies in Gabon. The lecture was well attended and I learned some of the latest information about the conservation and population status of these endangered animals.

After Aiello’s lecture, a general emergency drill for the crew was conducted. This was nearly immediately followed with a presentation by our guest lecturer Dr. David Conrad entitled
“D’mba as Matrix of West African Womanhood: Female Gateways to the Spirit World”. The lecture took an inside look at the role of female initiation in the Baga society of coastal Guinea. As with all other lectures that Dr. Conrad has presented, this one was well attended too.

Lunch was served in The Restaurant and, as always, was very tasty. I enjoyed a conversation I had with guests about the previous day on Bom Bom Island and the upcoming day in Benin.

After a little break, the next presentation was on the program. This time our onboard geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo gave a presentation on “Water, the Restless Sea”. Juan explained some basic oceanography concepts, covering vertical and horizontal circulation, tides, waves and the world’s main current system.

With Tea Time, the third round of our Team Trivia started in the Panorama Lounge. All groups from the first round participated in this round, which was hosted by my colleague Richard Sidey.

In an early recap my colleagues Dr. Conrad and Olga Stavrakis spoke about the political development after the latest elections in Benin, giving this way a short pre-cap of our next stop tomorrow and about Portuguese colonial time in Sao tome respectively. Olga’s presentation was followed by an extensive briefing of our Expedition Leader Robin West about the next three stops and a short explanation about the activities in Sao Tome, because guests had to sign up for the different tours as there are only certain capacities available.

In the evening, a Venetian Society Cocktail Party took place in The Theatre, followed by a delicious dinner in The Restaurant. Looking forward to the next day and to Cotonou in Benin…

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