You wouldn’t believe that we are in the deep Souther Ocean. Today is sunny with a temperature of about 12 degrees. The sea is dead calm and we have been traveling east all day in brilliant sunshine at a speed of 13 knots. The ship’s chart shows that we are now just on half way to Georgia (5.30 pm on February 10th).
It has obviously been a sea day for us. We had a little sleep in and a very relaxing day with talks on the history of Antarctic exploration, seals and other marine mammals and some more photographic advice. I have spent most of the day editing the photos that I have taken so far on the trip. I am happy with about 50% of them and have deleted many that are just not very photogenic.
Breakfast today included fried eggs along with sausages and hash-browns Obviously this was accompanied by a choice of cereals / porridge, fruit, pastries, toast and juice. Lunch was a choice of salad and pasta, or a salad roll up in the bar on the 6th deck.
We had a new passenger, Nick Brenton, join us in Stanley. He is catching a lift on the ship on his way to Georgia. to do some work on a program to eradicate rats. They are a big ecological problem, having arrived on ships over the years and are a distinct threat to the birdlife. He was telling us that when you can eradicate all the rats, the bird population can increase by as much as tenfold! Georgia is a relatively easy place in which to remove rats as it is naturally segmented by glaciers and rats can be baited in different sectors of the island.
We have been followed a couple of Albatross and a few Giant Petrels throughout the day.
This morning we had to attend a compulsory talk on the our IAATO obligations – especially for Georgia, where we will face the potential scrutiny of government officials. IAATO stands for International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators. Nearly all expedition organisations, but not necessarily the cruise line operators belong to this organisation. This is unfortunate. This tour company, One Ocean, takes its obligations very seriously, and this morning we learnt the ‘rules’ for our visit to Antarctica and Georgia. They are intended to ensure that the environment remains just as pristine in three generations time (or more), as it is today.
Broadly, they include:
1. No taking of food ashore where wrappers and plastic etc can blow away.
2. Absolutely no smoking ashore
3. Returning to the ship in case of a need to go to the toilet.
4. Don’t go within 5 metres of any wildlife or do anything to cause it to change its natural behaviour.
5. Wash guano off clothing in sea water before getting into zodiacs and returning to the ship
6. Ensure that outer clothing is cleaned every time we return to the ship and boots are sterilised in disinfectant solution.
7. Don’t walk on moss beds and areas of other delicate vegetation.
8. Don’t remove or take any item whatsoever from where it lies.
We do not want to introduce seeds that may have been caught up in our clothing, for example, to areas in which they do not naturally occur. In addition, we must be careful not to transfer potential viruses / bacteria from one penguin colony to another. Tomorrow, we will have our clothing inspected, especially the velcro patches for foreign matter. We will also have our packs vacuumed to remove any foreign sand, seeds and any other potential ecological risks.
In the meantime, its up to the bar for a drink and then down to the dining room on the third deck for dinner.