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Bel­lings­hau­sen Sea

15th-17th Janu­a­ry 2015 – From here on we real­ly start our ant­arc­tic Odys­seey, the see­min­gly end­less distan­ces around a good part of the con­ti­nent. Many hund­red nau­ti­cal miles over open sea. The coast remains far away and out of sight, and so does the pack ice. This is how it should be. If we start making end­less cur­ves and bends alrea­dy now, then we will never get any­whe­re. Time our most pre­cious resour­ce now.

And it is pas­sing quick­ly. Some­ti­mes with a bree­ze, some­ti­mes without, but it is gene­ral­ly with qui­te calm seas the­se first days across the Bel­lings­hau­sen Sea are going by. When the wind is blowing, many like to be out on the open deck, becau­se then many of the beau­ti­ful Cape Petrels are gli­ding around the ship, in see­min­gly end­less num­bers. It is pro­bab­ly a limi­ted num­ber of indi­vi­du­als that are always com­ing back in cir­cles, visi­t­ing the ship every cou­p­le of minu­tes, but it must still be some hund­reds of them. Some­ti­mes, they will sit on the water for a moment, dip their head into the waves and then take off again with a few run­ning steps on the water, the mane­ouvre that has given the petrels their com­mon name, after St. Peter from the bible, who also tried to walk over water, slight­ly less suc­cess­ful than his boss. In con­trast to St. Peter, the petrels don’t sink into the water, but are soon fly­ing up in the ski­es again, with some more krill in the s tomach. I have never seen krill in the sto­mach from a moving ship. If I was depen­ding on fin­ding krill, I would long have star­ved to death. But what loo­ks like a desert of water to us, is a rich table for the­se sea­b­irds.

b6_Bellingshausen-Sea_15Jan15_27

The super-remo­te island of Peter I remains hid­den behind clouds and waves. We spend a few hours near this now almost invi­si­ble island. Once, we put a zodiac on the water to find out what we actual­ly alrea­dy know: the sea is too rough for us to board the zodiacs. Every few seconds the plat­form of the gang­way is eit­her han­gin high abo­ve the water or disap­pears insi­de a wave. From the boat you can see what it is real­ly like, it loo­ks less dra­ma­tic from deck. This does sim­ply not work, not today, not in the­se con­di­ti­ons. So we wave good­bye to this lone­so­me, deso­la­te island and con­ti­nue our jour­ney west­wards. We can’t do anything against wind and ice, human desi­re is not­hing against the for­ces of natu­re. This can occa­sio­nal­ly be disap­poin­ting and dif­fi­cult to accept.

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last modification: 2015-01-19 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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