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01/03/2008

At Sea, Drake Passage

The day began calm, clear, and sunny. A few southern fulmars and cape petrels followed the ship early in the day. Looking seaward from the bridge, we saw blue petrels and Antarctic prions. The “young explorers” met for Pictionary with Cathy and Carol, and Ron presented an interesting talk called “Deception Island: Voyage into an Active Volcano.” Deception Island is a volcanically active area with a fascinating human and natural history. Kroner Lake supports unique bacteria and algae and, like much of the island, has been given special protected status. Its human history dates back to the early 1830s, when sealing fleets from Stonington, Connecticut sought refuge from foul weather. Henry Foster conducted experiments on magnetism there, and the Norwegians there established the most southerly of all whaling stations. In 1967, a massive eruption created several craters, and in 1970 another eruption opened a huge fissure in a glacier, which triggered a lahar (a massive flow of debris, including ice, water, mud, and ash). Much of the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey station was destroyed or buried in the resulting flow. Yesterday, while we were hiking up the crater at Telefon, Spanish seismologists arrived to monitor their instruments.

Early in the afternoon, a white morph southern giant petrel followed the ship. Patricia taught the younger set to draw penguins, and Lilian linked natural history and literature in her talk, “Knowing Whales: Cetaceans as Cognitive Subjects in Melville’s Moby-Dick.” The ensuing discussion grappled with some of the philosophical and ethical aspects that attend the legacy of whaling we have been witnessing all around us. Marco finished off the day’s lectures with a talk entitled “Albatross—We Have a Problem!” He explained why longline fishing is particularly lethal to albatross and other pelagic seabirds and outlined the known available techniques to mitigate mortality.

At his farewell cocktail party and dinner, Captain Moulds graciously thanked the officers and crew, many of whom work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the trip a success. He also thanked Marco, who was acting as Expedition Leader for the first time, and who did a stellar job.

   

Many passengers spent time on deck taking in some fresh air or watching the many birds that were following the ship.

The Cape Petrel, or Pintado as its known, was our constant companion during the day.

The Giant Petrel belongs to the group of birds called Tubenoses and the tubes are quite apparent on this large bird.

Everyone gathered in the main lounge for the Captain's Farewell Cocktail party.

The restaurant served a delicious meal in the main dining room and everyone had a grand time at the Captain's Farewell dinner!


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