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We awoke with the power of the Drake Passage still very evident around us. Many of us had long since acquired our sea legs, but there was still an anticipation of reaching the lee of Cape Horn and the calmer seas we would encounter there. An entourage of albatrosses and giant-petrels circled back and forth in our wake as we ate breakfast, some gliding right past the window as we sipped our tea and gobbled our eggs. We joined Historian David Wilson in the Darwin Lounge for his talk “Murder in the Land of Fire: Savagery, Darwin and the tale of Jemmy Button.” As the distance between the Minerva and the southern tip of South America grew smaller and smaller, David’s lecture provided some fascinating historical background on Tierra del Fuego.
We then met with Cruise Director Jannie Cloete for a disembarkation briefing to learn about our travel details once we leave the ship in Ushuaia. This was followed by a sneak preview of the expedition DVD produced by Videographers Tamara Venturi and Francesco Russo. The footage was amazing, and our experiences in the Antarctic seemed both years ago and yesterday at the same time.
During the afternoon, Geologist Martin Berg gave a well anticipated lecture called “Climate change: What the ice of Antarctica tells us about our climate”. Martin suggested that in order to understand present day changes in climate, it is crucial to be aware of how climate has shifted in the past. He described some of the methods used to reconstruct the earth’s former climate, and presented the main factors which lead to global warming. Martin pointed out that the polar regions tend to show the largest temperature increases during warming periods, and that the Antarctic Peninsula has shown an alarming warming trend for the past 50 years!
After visiting the ship’s galley during afternoon tea, we gathered in the Darwin Lounge for an overview of our expedition to Antarctica. Expedition Leader Suzana Machado D’Oliveira Harker summarized the amazing journey we had all taken together, and then we watched a wonderful retrospective slide show of our trip compiled by the Expedition Team. It featured photos of our various landings, and many people recognized themselves disguised behind red parkas and rubber boots. There were some incredible images and we were stunned when we realized how lucky we had been with the weather and the wildlife on this journey to Antarctica.
We also participated in a raffle to benefit the Minerva crew welfare fund. Guests who purchased tickets stood the chance of winning a sea chart marked with our route and signed by the senior officers onboard. There was excitement in the room as the winning number was announced, and the ship’s crew was very grateful to all those who participated.
The final days of this expedition have been dominated by reflection and celebration. We have reached the end of our exploration of Antarctica. This is a special place beyond description, both extremely powerful and fragile at the same time. With all that we have experienced and learned, we can return home with a new found knowledge of how special the Antarctic is, and how important it is to protect it for future generations.
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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.