Sunday, 24 January 2010

Our Day Was filled With Firsts

I suppose it isn´t surprising that on our first trip to Antarctica our days would be filled with many amazing first time experiences. We had many wonderful experiences that are not listed below, but here follows a few of the day´s highlights and most interesting firsts.
1. Our first iceberg was seen early this morning. The spotting of the first iceberg in Antarctica is one of those moments that truly heralds your arrival to the land of ice!
2. Our clothes were vacuumed! I´m sure none of us had had our outdoor clothing and backpacks vacuumed before. It was all part of the measures to prevent the introduction of alien species to Antarctica program.
3. Humpback whales! For many of us it was the first time to see a whale. This morning at 9:20 as we approached Nelson Strait two humpback whales surfaced about 100 metres from the ship. We had excellent views of the mammalian behemoths. We could even see what they had been dining on for breakfast as a brilliant pink cloud of digested krill plumed behind one of the whales just before it dived.

1. It was our first time in the speedy sturdy Polar Cirkle Boats. It took all of about 120 seconds to get from the ship to the shore where the Expedition Team greeted us. Expedition Leader Anja Erdmann gave us the layout of the landing and a time to be back to the landing site. Helpful expedition Team members were spread along all of the points of interest on shore.
2. Who will ever forget the first time they laid eyes on a real live, walking, swimming, defecating penguin? Who will forget the head-bobbing walk, the pendulum body wobble, the wings wide-to-the-side, the dissonant chorus of the Chinstrap ecstatic display, the olfactory-ness of a thriving penguin colony?
3. A crested penguin. Without a doubt Macaroni´s are one of the coolest of all birds. Most of us climbed a small hill to visit with one muddy Mac in the midst of the Chinstrap colony.
4. Our first Antarctic Fur Seal which was also the first pinniped for many of us. We had been schooled during our rather comprehensive IAATO briefing earlier in the day that Antarctic Fur Seals are aggression on flippers. This animal was the exception that proved the rule. The healthy young male slept through almost the entire landing. Perhaps he could be best described as passively aggressive.
5. And please remember… this is only day one of our landings. There is an entire boat load of exciting adventures to come.