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01/23/2009

At sea, Drake Passage

We awoke to bright skies and a moderate motion on the ship. Every ship’s company that enters the Drake Passage does so with a certain sense of foreboding and it is always a relief when we find the crossing is not too bad at all. Minerva is a very stable ship and we rode the seas quite comfortably. Most of us took the opportunity to sleep in and have relaxed breakfast. After all of the excitement and activity of Antarctica, it felt good to have some down time. This doesn’t mean we were idle! We had a varied programme of lectures and activities to attend.

Sean Todd restarted our Enrichment Lecture program with a fascinating talk called ‘ A History of Humans and Marine Mammals’ in which he gave us the history of man’s exploitation of seals and whales.

Peter Clarkson followed with ‘SCAR and the ATS- Antarctic Science and Governance’. Peter outlined how the members of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research work together to initiate, promote and coordinate scientific research in Antarctica.

During the afternoon Patricia Silva gave a presentation on a very serious situation affecting the Southern Ocean and seas worldwide: 'Albatross – We have a problem'. Long-line fishing is destroying albatross populations but simple measures can prevent deaths. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) manages fisheries in the Southern Ocean. One of CCAMLR’s main concerns is to reduce or eliminate the activities of illegal vessels in the waters under its jurisdiction. Contributions from passengers on IAATO ships are helping the “Save the Albatross” campaign. Apart from lobbying governments, the public has financially supported conservation initiatives in many countries and this support is beginning to make a difference.

The last lecture of the day was with Richard Harker he concluded his very useful series on making the most of our digital cameras with 'I've got the shot – now what do I do?' In this third lecture, Richard described how to preserve our photos and went through the options for archiving them. He also discussed the value of 'processing' digital images by using software such as Photoshop.

Outside on deck there were only occasional cloudy periods with sunshine for the rest of the time. It was nice to feel the air warm up again as we headed north.

Once again it was time to dress up in our best, this time for Captain Biasutti’s Farewell Cocktail Party and dinner. During the voyage guests were invited to submit their photographs to be judged for best wildlife, best scenery, best penguin and best overall. At the cocktail party, Nigel Clayton unveiled the winners and there were truly some outstanding images. We then went off to enjoy an outstanding meal prepared by Minerva’s chefs and galley team and it was another very enjoyable evening at sea.
 

   

Ornithologist Patricia Silva discusses the plight of the Albatross with one of the guests.

In spite of the high seas, some braved the pool deck to do birdwatching.

The bulletin board is a visited place during days at sea.

The captain recaps our expedition and introduces his new hotel manager.

And the winners of the photo competition are announced.


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