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01/05/2010

At Sea

Many of us slept like logs, having been gently rocked to sleep by the ship’s movement the night before. We awoke to a new world, one filled with a view of ocean in all directions, and our first glimpses of wandering albatrosses careening in the ship’s wake. The South American continent was now far behind us, and sipping coffee on the back deck was a great way to take it all in.

Our day began with a hearty breakfast, and then the opportunity to exchange our parkas for better-fitting ones, and to borrow rubber boots if we had not brought our own. We then roamed back up to our staterooms in our thick socks to prepare for the first lecture of the day, “Photography in Antarctica – What to expect and how to prepare”. Photo Enrichment Coach David Salmanowitz covered everything from protecting our camera equipment from unpredictable weather, to understanding how to best deal with the challenging lighting situations that are the norm in Antarctica.

We stepped out on deck for some fresh air to find huge numbers of birds soaring around the ship in all directions. The railings were lined with red jackets, and the sound of clicking cameras could be heard above the splashing of the waves. Thousands of prions swirled back and forth as far as the eye could see, their white underparts flashing brilliantly in the morning sun as they banked in unison.

We tore ourselves away from the spectacle to join Ornithologist Patricia Silva for her lecture “Wanderers of the Southern Ocean”. Patricia highlighted some of the species we would see out in the open ocean and told stories of their amazing long distance travel abilities, including the fact that some species regularly circumnavigate the entire globe between nesting seasons! Patricia presented beautiful photos that made us all want to spend every waking moment out on deck, in the hope of catching a glimpse of some of these striking birds.

After a relaxing lunch and a bit of a nap, we headed out on deck to enjoy the glorious sunshine and calm seas. Some of us walked the Promenade deck for a bit of a leg stretch, while others gathered along the stern railing to practice their seabird identification or grabbed a chair to get lost in a book. The yellow jackets of the Expedition Staff were ubiquitous and we stopped to ask questions about the birds flying past the ship, or to just introduce ourselves.

Following afternoon tea, we met the Expedition Team in the Darwin Lounge for “An Introduction to the Falkland Islands”, a medley of information and highlights about the area we would be visiting tomorrow. We then all donned our Sunday best and met Captain John Moulds and many other members of the ship’s staff in the Darwin lounge for the Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party, carefully swaying back and forth with the ship as we mingled over champagne. The Captain gave us permission to come up and visit his officers on the bridge, and then introduced his staff. It became clear that, just like those of us traveling as passengers, the crew has a very international flare. We all had a very enjoyable evening that was rounded off by a superb gala dinner.
 

   

With calm seas and blue skies as the background, passengers were out on deck photographing the seabirds following the ship.

Marine Mammalogist Chris Cutler keeps an eye out for whales while watching the large numbers of seabirds accompanying the ship.

An exquisite Black-browed Albatross flies along side the Minerva.

Minerva guests joined together in the Darwin lounge for the Captain's Welcome cocktail party.

Captain John Moulds chats with guests in the Shackelton Bar before dinner.


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