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12/21/2009

At Sea - New Island, Falkland Islands

As we enjoyed our morning coffee all we could discuss was the change in weather, we had gone from blue skies to drizzle over night. Luckily as the morning progressed the wind increased and the blue skies returned.

For those who had arrived late, directly after breakfast was their time to exchange any parkas they may wish and to borrow a pair of wellingtons from the ships supply if they so wished. Monte and Carol exchanged parkas while Russ, J.J and the Chris’s handed out the wellingtons.

Shortly there after our resident ornithologist Patri invited us to the Darwin lounge for her talk “Wanderers of the Southern Ocean”. Passionate about birds, especially those of the Southern Ocean Patri gave us insight into the lives and reproductive cycle of the seabirds that we may expect to encounter during our voyage. Inviting two of us onto the stage she had us stand arms out fingertips together while she stood between us. She was demonstrating how large the Wandering Albatross truly are, as it is so difficult to get any scale for these majestic birds as they fly past the ship.

Before lunch and briefing on zodiac procedures and our plans for the afternoon took place in the Darwin lounge. Several of the expedition staff put together quick teasers on the Falklands in the various areas of expertise. Monte for one, took us on a whirlwind tour of 450 million years of history in under 10 minutes!

At 1430 we began our first landing of our voyage, New Island in the West Falklands. As each zodiac arrived onshore we were greeted by Marco or Aaron before heading off on a 1 km (0.6 m) hike to a mixed colony of black-browed albatross, rockhopper penguins and king cormorants. After we had visited the colony we had the choice to make our way to the 600 ft (183m) summit of Rookery Hill where Russ Manning was awaiting our arrival.

Having spent three hours ashore in the sun and wind seemed to have worn us all out. We headed home to the MV Minerva for a quick relax before our recap and tonight’s dinner.

We really couldn’t have experienced a better landing to start our voyage of discovery in the Southern Ocean. Tomorrow, Stanley!
 

   

Imperial shags were one of the species of sea birds that were nesting on the island.

A guest sits quietly as a curious Rockhopper investigates her.

Black-browed Albatrosses are one of the most beautiful of all seabirds and guests had ample opportunity to observe them today on their nests.

A pair of rockhoppers sleep in the warm sun.

Passengers hiked back to the landing site after spending several hours at the seabird colony.


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