We leave Staten Island behind us as we head east
Charlie Wheatley helps with a perfect parka fit
Oops! A little too big!
Patricia Silva describes the seabirds we’re likely to see
Our Captain brings us close to a large pod of Long-finned Pilot Whales
Le Boreal - January 05, 2012
At Sea, En Route to Falkland Islands
Temperature: 46° F
Wind speed: 25 knots
Cloud cover: 80%
We awoke to a new world, one defined by an ocean view in all directions, with the last remnant of the South American continent now just barely visible off in the distance behind us. Even though Le Boreal had left the shelter of the Beagle Channel during the night, we could scarcely feel the motion of the ocean. This stretch of water has quite the reputation for impressive rough seas, but by any standard, we were very lucky on this first day of our crossing to the Falkland Islands.
With a hot cup of coffee in hand, we bundled up and went out on deck to watch the entourage of petrels and albatrosses escorting us south. We encountered large flocks of sooty shearwaters rising up off the water, feeding in the productive waters off of their Tierra del Fuego breeding islands. We also saw our first albatrosses of the trip, including large numbers of black-browed albatrosses, with their diagnostic orange beaks and dark eyebrows. Most of the world population breeds in the archipelago we will be visiting tomorrow: the Falklands.
We then had the opportunity to exchange our parkas for better-fitting ones before joining Ornithologist Patricia Silva for her lecture "Seabirds of the Southern Ocean". Patricia highlighted some of the species we would see out in the open ocean and told stories of their amazing long distance travel abilities, including the fact that some species regularly circumnavigate the entire globe between nesting seasons!
Following the lecture, some of us wandered out on deck where the Expedition Staff were gathered to point out the seabirds following the ship. Photo Enrichment Coach Richard Harker then gathered beginner and professional photographers alike into The Theater for his talk: "Photography in Antarctica – What to expect and how to prepare". He covered everything from protecting our camera equipment from unpredictable weather, to understanding how to best deal with the challenging lighting situations that are the norm in Antarctica. He empowered us to go out and capture that perfect shot.
Partway through Richard's lecture, a call came from the bridge that a large and scattered group of long-finned pilot whales had been sighted, and that the ship would be heading over for a closer look. The lecture was paused and the lecture hall vacated quickly as we hurried to the outer decks, cameras and binoculars in hand. Pilot whales feed primarily on squid and fish and, judging by all of the albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters in the area, we had come across a very productive patch of ocean indeed. After a leisurely afternoon of scanning for wildlife interspersed with breaks for tea or hot chocolate, we headed back into The Theater for "An Introduction to the Falkland Islands", presented by various members of the Expedition Team.
We then all donned our Sunday best and met Captain Patrick Marchesseau and many other members of the ship's staff in The Theater for the Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party, carefully swaying back and forth with the ship as we mingled over champagne. The Captain told us a bit about himself, and then introduced several core members of his staff. It became clear that, just like those of us traveling as passengers, the crew has quite the international flare. We all had a very enjoyable evening that was rounded off by a superb gala dinner and a gorgeous sunset.