Previous Log
Next Log

12/12/2007

At sea, Drake Passage

The swells calmed down overnight, which was a relief to all because, at the least, it made walking around the ship and sitting at table much easier. The lecture programme continued with marine biologist Jim McClintock talking about 'The effects of climate change on the marine biology of the Antarctic Peninsula'. Jim demonstrated very graphically the recent changes to the Antarctic climate and showed how the animals are reacting. He was followed by Henry Pollack on 'Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift: How Antarctica came to the South Pole'. This explained how the continental landmasses moved around the surface of the Earth. Ornithologist Patricia Silva then introduced us to penguins in 'Birds in tuxedos – Why do they look different?' This was an overview of the penguin world which will enrich our encounters with these charming birds.

The last formal meeting was Larry Hobbs' mandatory briefing on the guidelines for our behaviour in Antarctica. These are laid down by IAATO (the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and are mainly obvious – no littering or trampling of vegetation – or commonsense. For instance, we may not approach within 15ft (5 metres) of penguins – although they may approach us. Larry then told us how we will use zodiac inflatable boats to land for our explorations. These boats are extremely reliable and all the naturalists who drive them have many years of experience of working in Antarctica.

In the evening there was an amazing unplanned addition to the programme. Whale biologist Stephanie Martin announced from the bridge that two humpback whales had been sighted. Captain Moulds brought the ship close to the whales and we had grandstand views of them feeding. The whales seemed to be just as interested in us. They stopped feeding and swam around the bows, surfacing frequently within 50 yards of the ship – sometimes even closer. We could see their huge white foreflippers, the colour patterns on their flukes and the barnacles on their heads. Sometimes they put their heads out of the water or pirouetted while hanging vertically. It was a most amazing sight. Awesome is the only word.

   

Checking out a map to chart our progress as we sail closer to the Antarctic Peninsula.

We had a chance to chat with the head chef, Nico Edens during the special Gourmet Galley Afternoon Tea.

In the early evening we had a fantastic sighting of two humpback whales.

The humpback whales were feeding on krill fairly close to the ship.

The humpbacks were extremely curious of the Explorer II's bow.


Previous Log Next Log

* 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.