Explorer's Antarctica Voyage 7126 Day 11


Day 11 - December 5, 2011 - At sea  

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 59° 10’ S, 48° 40’ W (noon position)
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 0° C
Pressure: 1004 hPa
Wind: 37 km / h
Humidity: 93%

It was a grey day with low grey clouds hanging over the grey sea. But the seas were calm with very little wind and the swell had subsided even more since yesterday making it a pleasant day to be at sea. Most people took the opportunity to sleep in and relax a bit, to catch up on editing photos or sending messages home, reading or enjoying tea and coffee in the lounges.

Outside the wind, though relatively weak, was fiercely cold, but a few hardy souls bundled in red parkas and muffled in scarves and hats up to their noses marched with determination around in circles on Deck 6 to take in the fresh air and to stretch the legs. But only 6 brave souls spent more than one hour outside today in the fog and wind.

The every-present Pintado petrels that have followed us on our entire journey continued to circle ceaselessly around the ship. The scattered white and brown spots and blotches on their black wings distinguish these birds, and their appearance is quite pretty. Combined with what seems to be enthusiastic ship-following behavior, they are an enjoyable thing to watch, and added life and motion to this otherwise grey and cloudy day. Feeding mainly on squid, krill and fish, they catch their prey either during the day or at night from the surface of the water by pecking at it in a pigeon-like way. Perhaps this is the reason they have been named Cape pigeon by some. This bird has many different common names, from Cape Petrel, Cape Pigeon, or Pintado petrel to Pied petrel, though its scientific, unarguable name is Daption capense.

The lecture program continued today with three different talks, first from Uli about the mysterious deep sea and its odd creatures, then with Luqui and an explanation of glaciers and how they are formed and function, and later in the afternoon Peter gave the second part of his Shackleton talk. Before dinner Lou, our onboard photographer, showed the first part of the film and slide show she has been making for this voyage and we could look back and admire her many beautiful pictures and think about the wonderful things we have seen so far on this trip.

The grey clouds continued to hang low over the sea and only the occasional Pintado petrel flying through the fog gave us something to look at outside our windows. All was calm and quite and the ship continued steadily on its course towards Antarctica. It was a restful day and we savored the peace and quiet.