February 7, 2006
Antarctic Cruise Day 2
The Plan: A day at sea on our way to the white continent.
I got up at sunrise today because I had too much adrenaline running through me to sleep. It was cold and rainy, but I didn't care because I was on my way to Antarctica. As I walked around the ship, I discovered what cruise food was like: good and lots of it. Every meal is all-you-can-eat, and it seems like there are at least 8 meal times every day. I weighed myself for the first time since starting my trip today, and I have lost 30 pounds. Maybe I'll put a little of that back on during this cruise.
I think Craig has the most extreme example of lifestyle changes with this trip. He has been living in his tent in the Andes for the last two years. Last week, he was so hungry he killed a rabbit with a rock and ate it. Now he, along with everyone else on the ship, can have whatever he wants whenever he wants it. It will be a good change of pace for a few weeks.
This afternoon, we went to a required briefing for our landings in Antarctica. We will be going to Half Moon Island on zodiacs for about an hour tomorrow where we will get to see a large rookery of chinstrap penguins. Three other antarctic landings will occur in the subsequent days. We also were given a set of ground rules for the landings. These rules mainly concerned preserving the environment. We have to stay at least ten feet from the penguins, clean our boots with a special disinfectant when we leave, stay within designated areas, and not collect any souvenirs.
The rest of my day was packed with activities. I went to several lectures given by members of the Marco Polo's expedition team. They all seem to be very knowledgeable in their fields, so my plethora of questions should get answered along the way. I also caught the tail end of a photography lecture, but it just appeared to be about the basic rules of composition, so I don't think I missed out on any technical information. Tonight, I played a lot of ping pong. Looking at the ship's schedule, I realized that there were far more activities planned on the ship than the time required to do them, so I don't think boredom will come into play during this cruise.
Tonight was formal night on the ship. There wasn't enough room in my backpack for a tuxedo, so I had to miss it. The only consequence to me was that I had to eat in the buffet instead of going to the nice restaurant, but the buffet was even better than anything I had eaten in months. Still, seeing hundreds of people walking around in dress that would be appropriate for the Academy Awards made me feel a little out of place. The backpackers on board seem to be getting along well, but there doesn't appear to be much mingling between them and the rich old Americans who never realized that it was possible to travel internationally for less than $5000 per week. I wonder if there will be a clash of the two cultures at some point as we move on.
Lectures I went to today:
Bird watching with Expedition Ornithologist with Chris Wilson -- This started early at 8:00 AM. I made it in time, but it was raining too much to see any birds.
Meet The Expedition Team with Expedition Team Leader, Allan Morgan -- This meeting gave us an introduction to the scientific minds that would be at our disposal during our journey. Hopefully I'll be able to learn a thing or two about Antarctica along the way. Included on the team are:
Alan Morgan -- Expedition Team Leader
Dr. Neville Jones -- Expedition Ecologist
Mary Lou Blakesley -- Expedition Marine Mammalogist
Christopher Wilson -- Expedition Ornithologist
Dr. Marco Taviani -- Expedition Geologist
Marine Mammals of Antarctica with Mary Lou Blakesley -- A long slide show of all of the mammals that somehow manage to live in and around the antarctic waters. The main animals shown were whales (humpback, blue, sperm) and seals (fur, elephant). These animals can survive the extreme cold because they have so much blubber, and because water temperatures below the ice never get colder than -1.8 degrees Celsius, even when land temperatures reach as low as -80.
Birds of The Southern Climes with Chris Wilson -- Chris put on a slide show of all of the birds we are likely to sea on our trip. The main ones are penguins, of course, but we should also see terns, albatrosses, hawks, vultures, and cormorants.
The photo album for this entry is here.