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Day 16 - November 29, 2008 - At Sea En Route To Ushuaia, Argentina

By Robin Aiello

Smooth seas with sunny skies and scattered clouds

We woke today to bright sunshine. Thankfully, the calm sea conditions had lasted all night long, and we all got a fantastic good night’s sleep. The morning started with some amazing birdwatching – we gathered outside on the back sundeck to marvel at the abundance of seabirds following the ship. There were 5 species of albatross seen, including Wandering, Southern Royal, Northern Royal and Brown-browed. In addition, there were the large Giant Petrels and the smaller black and white spotted Cape Petrels. These magnificent birds captivated us as they soared behind and up and over the ship, giving the photographers fantastic photo opportunities!

At 10:00am our historian, Victoria, started the day off with a lecture entitled “The Antarctic Treaty System”. During her talk Victoria covered the difficult and complex issues of who owns Antarctica, and who is responsible for controlling and conserving it. It introduced us to the complex Antarctic Treaty System and some of its advisory organizations. Despite the complexity, it is good to know that the system is working and so many countries are working together to try to conserve this special land.

After lunch, Denise Landau, who has worked for the international organization IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) for over a decade, hosted a lively discussion covering important issues currently facing Antarctica, such as how to govern the increasing human activity in the region from tourism, science, and commercial activities. Denise opened our eyes to the range of issues and arguments that must be taken into account when considering the future of this amazing land!

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the lounges, taking naps, or simply sitting in the sun (of course, with parkas, gloves and hats!) watching the seabirds cruise alongside the ship.

The final Recap was held at 6:00pm. Val, the expedition photographer, presented his magnificent slideshow. It was fantastic to relive the highlights of the expedition through this photographic recap! His photos were wonderful – catching the range of moods and feelings that we had all experienced throughout the trip. He told us how, as a present, we will all receive a copy of the photo CD with over 700 photos from the past couple weeks.

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