Our voyage on board has certainly thrown us in at the deep end. Our windows down on the 2nd floor resemble washing machines and I’m completely in awe at how gracefully the staff can handle themselves while the ship is pitching this way and that. After our first night on the Plancius our group is slightly rocked and frazzled, but still eagerly pushing forward.
The day, apart from the waves, started serenely with our first and last lie-in on board. We were woken up by the ‘smooth and melodious’ voice of our expedition leader, Beau, over the intercom sharply at 7:40 am followed by a fantastic buffet breakfast. After setting up equipment, we began surveying seabirds and marine mammals at 9:30 am. Lars, the master of the schedule, arranged us into teams and then he and Sonja guided us in how to complete the surveys, identify the animals, use the radios and enter data. And, importantly, where the big red ‘torpedo’ button is on the bridge that we absolutely will not press. Or so we’ve promised…
There have been lots of wandering albatross, black-browed albatross and white-chinned petrels following the ship and some lucky passengers even saw hourglass dolphins and what was possibly a beaked whale.
When we’re not surveying, there are lectures to go to, power naps to take and a fabulous tea/coffee machine to keep us amply caffeinated the rest of the time. The meals, apart from being amazing in and of themselves, have also been a great place to meet other passengers. Everyone I’ve met so far has been incredibly kind and I’ve so loved hearing their stories.
At the end of the day, we had a team briefing to go over what we did today, what we can do better and what to look forward to tomorrow. It seems we’re all holding our breath till we see an abundance of cape petrels marking our proximity to the Antarctic Peninsula, when hopefully the swells calm down. But, in my opinion, there’s nothing quite like general gastrointestinal discomfort and slight sleep deprivation to really bring the team together!
written by Haley Arnold