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At sea, Drake Passage

Every ship's company is a little nervous when starting out across the notorious seas of the Drake Passage that separates the Antarctic Peninsula from South America. Yet the sea conditions today have been good – little wind and a low, old swell. Explorer II is a very stable vessel and there was very little movement. So we were able to make the most of the varied programme of lectures and activities.

Jim McClintock presented an overview of the history and utility of diving in Antarctic waters coupled with an introduction the myriad of marine invertebrates that make this one of the most productive marine systems in the world. He described the rich marine flora and marine invertebrate fauna of Antarctic coastal waters. Studies are just beginning to piece together the complex ecology of these marine communities that are increasing vulnerable to the changing conditions brought about by climate warming.

Patricia Silva and Marco Favero followed with a presentation on a very serious situation affecting the Southern Ocean and seas worldwide: 'Albatross – We have a problem.' Longline fishing is destroying albatross populations but simple measures can prevent deaths. For example, every year thousands of black-browed albatrosses from the Falkland Islands lose their lives at sea, most likely due to fatal interactions with fisheries. This mortality is unsustainable. Patricia described how longline and trawl fishing pose risks to seabirds and outlined methods to reduce the number of seabirds being killed, examples of initiatives currently being undertaken by governments, scientists and fishermen to reduce the impact of fisheries on seabirds. Contributions from passengers on Explorer II are helping the “Save the Albatross” campaign. Apart from lobbying governments, the public has supported financially conservation initiatives in many countries, and this support is beginning to make a difference.

On a lighter note in the afternoon, Bob Burton reminisced in 'When I was a lad: Two Years in Antarctica'. Bob had worked at the British Antarctic Survey station on Signy Island in the mid-1960s and gave a rather idyllic account of a very simple life in a small, isolated community of young men.

Finally, Henry Pollack presented a lecture titled "Internationalism in Antarctica: the Antarctic Treaty System". The historical antecedents of the Antarctic Treaty – the International Polar Years of 1882-83 and 1932-33 and the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 – set the stage for this remarkable system of shared governance. The Treaty lays the framework for peaceful and unfettered scientific research and a special strategy for accommodating territorial claims.

The calm sea was a bonus for Captain Moulds' Farewell Cocktail Party and Dinner. We could circulate easily on the level floor of the lounge and then make the most of a magnificent menu without mishap.


We had incredible conditions and were fortunate enough to see these extremely rarely sighted beaked whales.

In the afternoon there was a second sighting of a beaked whale, this time a southern bottlenose whale.

Cruise Director Jannie Cloete welcomed us to the evening's festivities.

We gathered in the lounge for the Captain's Farewell cocktail party.

Our Communication Officer Ravi handles all the web photos, cruise long and emails.

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* Please Note: Daily cruise logs are posted each day based on communications and log entries received from the vessel. We will strive to keep the cruise log's updated daily, however, communications are dependent on internet connection and delays may occur due to communication interruptions and other variables outside of A&K's control. Your patience is appreciated.