Albatross, whales and petrels entertain us during decktime
A mature Wandering Albatross crosses the wake of Le Boreal
Teatime includes many delicacies to sample
Rachel provides onboard shoppers with many choices
Le Boreal - January 07, 2012
At Sea, En Route to South Georgia
Temperature: 41° F
Wind speed: 22 knots
Cloud cover: 85%
Well rested from a good night sleep, we socialized over scrambled eggs before embarking on what was to become a day of learning and wildlife watching. The first lecture of the day, "Fur-lined, web-footed wonders of the Antarctic: An introduction to the seals of the Southern Ocean", was presented by Marine Biologist Charley Wheatley. 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.
After the lecture, we stepped outside to greet the day head on, and to join the Expedition Staff in scanning for seabirds and whales. A minke whale was briefly spotted, but the seabirds were most definitely the stars of the show. Several giant-petrels followed us resolutely, and gave us several close passes. Their decision to follow us was undoubtedly tied to their hope that our ship's propellers would stir up some food, or that we would turn out to be a fishing vessel that might discard fish parts overboard. Their latter assumption was erroneous, but on several occasions the petrels settled down on the water in our wake, picking at something appetizing that had apparently come up to the surface behind us.
After sipping café lattes in the Grand Salon, we headed back to The Theater for a presentation by Geologist Jason Hicks entitled, "Gondwana: The origins of Antarctica". Jason gave a detailed overview of the geologic processes involved in the movement of Earth's tectonic plates, and how these processes caused the break up of the former supercontinent of Gondwanaland, and resulted in the formation of the Antarctica continent in its current location at the bottom of the world.
Following lunch, each of us had to confront the difficult and deeply personal decision whether to go exercise in the gym, or to take a nap. Judging by the lack of crowds in the gym, most everyone was evidently well rested for deck time with the Expedition Team come mid-afternoon. And good thing, as fin whales were in the area, and we needed as many eyes on deck as possible to spot the next whale blow. The railings on the pool deck were lined with red parkas as we all scanned ahead of the ship for the next blow.
We then 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.
Over cocktails, we met the Expedition Team in The Theater for a Recap, during which Historian Bob Burton told us the many virtues of tussac grass. Marine Biologist Charley Wheatley followed by introducing us to the Antarctic Convergence, the boundary between warm temperate water and icy cold Antarctic water, which we would be crossing during the night. Some of us listened to some live piano music in the bar after dinner to wrap up what had been be a very relaxing, educational and eventful day.