One of many Light Mantled Albatross alongside the ship
Several Antarctic Petrel join us with the Cape Petrel
Seabirds alongside the ship are the photographers’ delight
Larry Hobb’s Antarctic Guidelines briefing
Entering ‘Iceberg Alley’ or Antarctic Sound
Hong Kong group celebrates with the Captain
Le Boreal - December 11, 2011
At Sea, Drake Passage, Antarctic Sound
Temperature: 40° F
Wind speed: 20 knots
Cloud cover: 100%
Precipitation: Occasional rain
We pulled back the curtains this morning to a steel-grey sky, and a walk outside revealed cold, crisp air and a group of light-mantled sooty albatrosses circling the ship. These majestic birds spent several hours with us, banking across our wake and soaring right along the ship's railing. After a leisurely breakfast and Captain Patrick Marchesseau's announcement of the winner of the Iceberg Spotting Competition, we met Photo Coach Richard Harker in The Theater for his presentation entitled, "Photographing Antarctica: Taking charge of your digital camera". Richard went into detail on many of the features of today's digital cameras, including concepts like histograms and exposure compensation, which would help us greatly in capturing Antarctica in photos.
After a good dose of fresh air, we gathered back in The Theater with Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs and Assistant Expedition Leader Marco Favero for a mandatory briefing about conduct while ashore in Antarctica. The essential aims of this talk were to ensure that our visits there are conducted safely, and that the environment and wildlife are not disturbed by our presence. We also learned about the ship's zodiacs, which are the transport of choice in this part of the world.
Following lunch, many of us took the opportunity to take a short nap before joining Marine Biologist Charley Wheatley in The Theater for his presentation, "Fur-lined, web-footed wonders of the Antarctic: An introduction to the seals of the Southern Ocean". Charley gave us an excellent introduction to the elephant seals and fur seals (both of which are starting to occur more frequently in the Antarctic), as well as to the "ice seals", which are truly at home in and around the ice.
With parkas and cameras in hand, we proceeded out on deck to witness Le Boreal's entrance into Antarctic Sound, a stretch of water renowned for the collection of massive, flat-topped tabular icebergs that accumulate there.
We gathered back in The Theater for Ornithologist Patricia Silva's introduction to penguins entitled, "Birds in tuxedos: Why do they look different?". Patricia began with the very accurate premise that of all the over 8,800 species of birds in the world, the penguins are like no others. It was a very entertaining presentation, and we left eager for our arrival at our first Antarctic penguin colony.
We took every opportunity to be out on deck the rest of the day, to take in the quintessential Antarctica scenery. We pulled ourselves away for our first Recap and Briefing with Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs and the rest of the Expedition Staff, as well as for dinner. Some of us stayed up for some singing in the bar, and to watch the glow of the sun setting over the ice. It was a perfect end to our first day in Antarctica.