Monday, October 25, 2010

ON BOARD PLANCIUS: October 22 & 23, 2010

FROM: Debi Shearwater Cabin 602
SUBJECT: ON BOARD m/v PLANCIUS: October 22 & 23, 2010

OCTOBER 22 & 23, 2010

Howdy, Birders,

October 22 marked a significant change in the array of seabird life. The
morning dawned, bright and sunny. No longer did we find Sooty and
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Spectacled Petrel or White-bellied
Storm-Petrel. Instead, we are now observing Light-mantled Sooty
Albatrosses and Wandering Albatrosses in greater numbers, as well as our
appears that we crossed the Antarctic Convergence, or Polar Front, last
night. KING PENGUINS appeared more regularly. They feed near the Polar
Front, primarily on lantern fish. A small group of toothed whales
briefly appeared alongside the ship. One incredibly lucky lady,
Natatlie, was able to fire off some shots of these enigmatic
mesoplodons! Her images show what might well be, STRAP-TOOTHED WHALES— a
group with females and, possibly a calf! After the sunny morning, we
spent most of the day in and out of fog.

We continued watching for wildlife, but many folks began editing their
photographs on October 23. The sea conditions and weather were holding
up nicely. Excitement was high, as we encountered our first sight of
Main Island, one of the offshore islands of South Georgia. On board, we
have a small group of rugged mountaineering climbers and skiers who plan
to traverse the historic Shackleton route across the massive, snow
capped and glaciated mountains of South Georgia. They were busy making
final preparations for this incredible trek.

Late afternoon, we arrived at King Haakon Bay, which lies between Nunez
Peninsula and Bomford Peninsula near the western end of the south coast
of South Georgia. It was here that Shackleton and his five companions
arrived on the James Caird at the end of their epic sea voyage from
Elephant Island. During this 16 day voyage, they covered some 800 miles
in their small vessel. Delighted upon arrival at Cave Cove, they made a
stew from pure, ice-cold water and four young Wandering Albatross
chicks. After a few days' rest, they sailed to the head of the bay and
established "Peggotty" camp. The James Caird was turned upside down to
form a shelter for the men who remained behind, while Shackleton, Crean
and Worsley set off across the island to Stromness Whaling Station.

Our plan was to land at Cave Cove, but the swell was too difficult.
Instead, we enjoyed a beautiful Zodiac cruise along the shoreline, with
as many as 12 LIGHT-MANTLED SOOTY ALBATROSSES in spectacular courtship
flight, sitting on potential nest sites and calling all the while.
Landing at Peggotty Bluff, we found many SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEALS,
including large bulls! A few KING PENGUINS stood in the meltwater
stream. Giant Petrels and the first SNOWY SHEATHBILLS and SOUTH GEORGIA
PINTAILS of our voyage. Finally, we were all so thrilled to be on land
for the first time in nearly six days' time. Our mountaineering party of
eight, headed off to the peaks and glaciers, following in Shackleton's

LMSAs forever,
Debi Shearwater
On board m/v Plancius; South Georgia Exclusive Voyage

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