Bob Burton, historian, signs his South Georgia book for guests
At lunch in the Drake Passage we toast our worthy ship
The faithful Cape Petrels continue to escort us across the Drake Passage
Our ever present bartenders, Mounir and Johann
Captain Patrick Marchesseau hosts a farewell cocktail for us
Le Boreal - January 17, 2012
At Sea, Drake Passage
Temperature: 43° F
Wind speed: 25 knots
Cloud cover: 50%
We awoke to the gentle rocking of the Southern Ocean. Some of us slept in a little extra, just because we could. It had been quite a stretch of very active days of landings in Antarctica, so a low-key day to relax and recuperate was very welcome.
After a leisurely breakfast and some good conversation over coffee, we joined Photo Coach Richard Harker in The Theater for the first enrichment lecture of the day entitled, "Photographing Antarctica: Making a good shot great!". Richard had many good ideas for how to travel with the many images we now have of our trip to the Antarctic, how to archive them, and how to subtly adjust them.
Before lunch, Assistant Expedition Leader Marco Favero and Ornithologist Patricia Silva gave a talk called, "Albatross - We have a problem". They discussed the issue of bycatch in fishing, specifically the accidental catch of albatrosses and petrels in the Southern Ocean longline fishery for Patagonian toothfish. They presented the declining population trends for several seabird species, and then explained some of the techniques that are being used on fishing boats to keep seabirds from drowning on fishing hooks.
After lunch and perhaps a bit of a nap, we headed back to The Theater to join Historian Bob Burton and Naturalist Suzana Machado D'Oliveira Harker for a talk entitled "The Antarctic Treaty: Successful cooperation". Bob and Suzana explained that the treaty holds all territorial claims in abeyance, requires all decisions regarding Antarctica's future be made by consensus, and dictates that Antarctica should remain a place used for peaceful purposes only. We left The Theater with pride that we humans have come up with such an agreement, and a hope that the treaty and the ideals behind it will be carried forward well into the future.
Following a break for tea, we joined Geologist Jason Hicks in The Theater for his talk, "Global warming: Ancient record, modern reality, or political spin?". Jason gave a detailed overview of climate change, citing ice cores from Antarctica as one of the best sources of data on how Earth's climate has varied over time. We were fascinated to learn that the Antarctic Peninsula is actually one of the places in the world where the climate is warming the most rapidly, with a reduction in the extent of winter sea ice and retreating glaciers as obvious signs.
In the evening, we met for Captain Patrick Marchesseau's Farewell Cocktail Party in The Theater. We mingled over champagne, and were introduced to so many of the ship's crew that the stage was overflowing. Soon the Captain stepped up to the stage to welcome us to the party. He thanked us for sailing onboard Le Boreal, summarized some of his highlights of the trip, and asked us to be ambassadors for The White Continent now that we've experienced it firsthand.
A wonderful dinner was then served by the restaurant staff, many of who were introduced to us just before dessert by Cruise Director Jannie Cloete. The bar in The Lounge was teaming after dinner, and included a bit of a sing-along with the Expedition Team. We all celebrated the friends we have made and the experiences we have had on this adventure to the south.