Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs presented the mandatory IAATO briefing for all guests who were planning to go ashore in Antarctica.
Passengers were in awe of the first icebergs seen when approaching the Antarctic Peninsula.
We were treated to many spectacular icebergs on our first morning in Antarctica!
A Weddell seal slept soundly on an ice floe as we passed by on the Le Boreal.
A large pod of killer whales was spotted by the Captain late in the evening!
A beautiful sunset brought a fantastic day to a conclusion.
At Sea, Drake Passage, Antarctic Sound
We pulled back the curtains this morning to a steel-grey sky, and a walk outside revealed cold, crisp air and a group of striking black-and-white cape petrels banking and gliding in our wake. After a leisurely breakfast, we joined Geologist Colin Summerhayes in The Theater for his presentation, "A geological perspective on Antarctic climate change". Colin took us through Antarctica's climate history, showing that what was once a land of lush ferns has, until the onset of the Industrial Revolution, progressively become cooler over the past 80 million years.
Captain Jean-Philippe Lemaire announced the winner of the First Iceberg Competition, and told us that he would be taking the ship right past this magnificent castle of ice. While we were gathered on the outer decks taking in the iceberg, a humpback whale was spotted, and actually breached out of the water for the lucky few that happened to be looking at the right place at the right time.
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.
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, "An introduction to the seals and whales of the Southern Ocean". He spoke of crabeater seals, with their specially designed teeth used to strain krill from the water, and humpback whales whose long flippers can be about a third of their body length.
This was followed by Ornithologist Patricia Silva's introduction to penguins entitled, "Birds in tuxedos: Why do they look different?". Patricia highlighted some of the species we may encounter on this trip including the Adelies, which march many miles over the sea ice in October to reach the sites of their breeding colonies. 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 during the afternoon, as Le Boreal entered Antarctic Sound. Spectacular flat-topped icebergs towered next to the ship as we sailed past, and smaller ice floes hosted Weddell Seals and penguins. 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.
But after dinner, a call came from the bridge that a pod of orcas had been spotted, and we found ourselves bundling up once again to head out on deck for a look. Two subgroups, totaling 15 to 20 animals, were traveling through the ice-choked waters, while the western horizon began to glow a glorious orange color. It was a perfect end to our first day in Antarctica.