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Home* Triplogs with photo galleriesAntarctic blog → Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge

Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge

10th-11th Janu­ary 2015 – God has put the Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge bet­ween Ant­ar­c­ti­ca and the rest of the world, and this sea­way has got its bad repu­ta­ti­on for good reason. But it is not at all living up to its repu­ta­ti­on now, you hard­ly feel that you are on a ship, to our gre­at satis­fac­tion. You could play bil­lard, some­thing which is not usual­ly asso­cia­ted with ships at sea. No reason to com­plain, in other words. Tho­se who wan­ted to could even get sun­b­urnt on deck yes­ter­day, while the­re were rela­tively few birds around the ship. They are more num­e­rous today: Wan­de­ring alba­tros­ses of dif­fe­rent age stages, as the plu­mage makes clear: the brow­nish ones are juve­ni­les, while the most­ly white ones are ful­ly adult. In addi­ti­on to that, the­re is a nice cross sec­tion of typi­cal spe­ci­es for the area around the ship, inclu­ding the small Wilson’s storm pet­rel with its very lively flight, the beau­tiful­ly pat­ter­ned Cape pet­rel, the occa­sio­nal White-chin­ned pet­rel and the maje­s­tic Wan­de­ring alba­tross at most times. Many of us are out on deck, enjoy­ing the Sou­thern Oce­an and its inha­bi­tants, try­ing to cap­tu­re them on memo­ry card. Call yours­elf hap­py if you have got a fast came­ra J

It is noti­ce­ab­ly col­der now, during the second day of our crossing, the cold is making its­elf felt through thin clo­thes, and the visi­bi­li­ty is occa­sio­nal­ly decreased by snow show­ers. Ant­ar­c­ti­ca is cle­ar­ly get­ting clo­ser. Mean­while, we can see the first wha­les, a group of 7-8 Fin wha­les, swim­ming abo­ve a 3,000 m water column.

You wouldn’t expect to be forced to do some vacu­um clea­ning on an ant­ar­c­tic expe­di­ti­on. But you are. Taking unwan­ted orga­nic mat­ter to Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, such as plant seeds which might intro­du­ce new spe­ci­es to this remo­te envi­ron­ment or bac­te­ria or viru­s­es that could bring dise­a­ses to the wild­life the­re, has to be pre­ven­ted by all means. What means some minu­tes of clea­ning work weig­hed against the risk of brin­ging „ali­ens to Ant­ar­c­ti­ca“.

Unneces­sa­ry to men­ti­on that the­se sea days are bro­ken up by regu­lar lec­tures, intro­du­cing the „birds of the wind“ or the wha­les of the Sou­thern Oce­an and of cour­se man­da­to­ry events inclu­ding envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly beha­viour in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca.


Snow show­ers are get­ting more fre­quent in the after­noon, while we are doing the vacu­um­ing ses­si­on. Cape pet­rels are around the ship in num­bers, and a beau­tiful and ele­gant Light-man­t­led soo­ty alba­tross is making wide cir­cles around us, coming near every cou­ple of minu­tes, while the exci­te­ment on board is rising with every mile that we are get­ting clo­ser to the South Shet­land Islands.

last modification: 2015-01-12 · copyright: Rolf Stange