On our last full day at sea before we catch sight of South Georgia, we could all feel the excitement building throughout the day. A day at sea is not just a transit, however. It is an opportunity in its own right, a part of the adventure.
Lectures today were fascinating: the discovery of Antarctica (Terra Australis) by naturalist Alex Searle and the fascinating detail of the eradication of rats on South Georgia by Sheri Bluestein.
Many of us spent time on the bridge or outside on deck watching seabirds during the day. We noted fog and the abrupt decline in sea surface temperature (6C – 4.3C) as we crossed the Polar Front (Antarctic Convergence) and entered polar waters. Wandering and royal albatrosses were our companions. They sailed by gently as soft-plumaged petrels whipped and zipped about. We spotted many other seabirds, but the star of the show was a beautiful sooty albatross that looked in the bridge windows before doing a couple of rounds and disappearing. Seen by a lucky few–those who spent the time outside and kept binoculars handy!
A large part of the afternoon was occupied in preparation for forthcoming landings. With the safety of the islands and wildlife we visit foremost in our minds, we attended a detailed briefing on how (and how not) to behave around the wildlife we will encounter. We also checked and cleaned our shore gear to ensure that we would not accidentally introduce plant seeds or bacteria to this precious environment.
Evening recap was an interactive affair, preceding a movie night. We watched the first part of a somewhat gruesome and emotional but fascinating account of the whaling industry in the Southern Ocean.
What will tomorrow bring? Well, the hope is it will be our first sight of South Georgia and with any luck–A LANDING!!!