Sunday, April 12, 2009



Following is a brief recap of our recent days in the South Atlantic--

April 9: En route to Gough Island, the seabirding must be one of the
most spectacular in all of the world! Thousands and thousands of GREATER
SHEARWATERS and BROAD-BILLED PRIONS followed our vessel, along with

April 8: We arrived at Gough Island about noon in wonderful sunshine. We
made a great Zodiac cruise of about two and a half hours, as no landings
are permitted on Gough. We saw several thousand NORTHERN ROCKHOPPER
PENGUINS, finishing their end of season molts on the rocky shoreline.
Thousands and thousands of SUBANTARCTIC FUR SEALS, many of them pups,
were thrashing about in the surf. Without too much trouble at all we
spotted the GOUGH BUNTING and then, the GOUGH MOORHENS, with chicks.
Incredibly, one of our staff spotted a SOOTY ALBATROSS NEST on a cliff
with a downy youngster! Altogether, this was an excellent outing.

April 9: We arrived at Tristan da Cunha Island about 11 am. Customs and
immigration officials boarded our ship for clearance, in case that we
had the opportunity to land with local guides for hikes. This was not to
be. Extremely strong winds prevented us from being able to get to shore
with the Zodiacs. In fact, the winds reached 43.4 meters/second, or 85
knots, or 157km/hour, or 97mph!! Once again, those hurricane force winds
crept up on us. The ship tacked back and forth in the lee, keeping us as
comfortable as possible.

April 10: Our ship relocated to Inaccessible Island. The winds had died
down, but the swell had increased. Hence, we could not land on Tristan,
again. However, at Inaccessible Island, we were able to make a glorious
one hour Zodiac cruise! Beautiful waterfalls cascaded down the steep
slopes of the island. And, TRISTAN THRUSES, as well as INACCESSIBLE
BUNTINGS were flitting about. This was just delightful for the birders,
who were able to add at least two much sought after species to their
lists. Several HAMMERHEAD SHARKS appeared, scouting around our vessel.

April 11: Back at Tristan da Cunha again, we had high hopes of a landing
and hikes. But, this was not to be. Seas and swell were far too high,
and the harbor was officially closed by the harbormaster. So, we set off
for Cape Town, South Africa. The weather forecast did not look good at
all. Once again, the dreaded "triangles" were on the weather map. We
feared the worse with this low pressure system.

April 12: Easter Sunday: Wake up call by "Dobra Ootra" as I am now
called! The Easter Bunny delivered some giant sized chocolate eggs! The
captain is deftly avoiding the "triangles" and our ride is not at all
bad. Today, there was not much wildlife around-- only a very few birds
and no cetaceans of any sort.

We are still several days from our final destination in Cape Town. Our
on board lectures continue, along with many quizzes, and a Final Exam is
in preparation.

Debra Shearwater in the South Atlantic

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