Krill, Recycled

January 27

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Bill's soothing voice woke us up as usual at 7, and this time we decided to ignore it. Breakfast is optional since sleep is more important. As the ship was going full speed ahead around Adelaide Island (as the shortcut channel was blocked by ice) we would be doing no excursions in the morning; more time to sleep. It was the 2nd time Bill's voice came over the intercom at 10, inviting us to see a presentation about where we were and where we are going, that made us get up in a hurry. After this presentation I finally started writing my log and Essan went back to bed.

Before noon Annie, the hotel manager, made the usual happy announcement about lunch being served. This time however she was completely ignored as Bill made an announcement at the same time about humpback whales ahead of the ship. Pretty much the whole ship population, including the chefs, waitresses and sailors found themselves at the front of the ship on different decks, observing the spectacle of three humpback whales surfacing, blowing and pooping around the ship. It was one of these few moments where I had to say that my lens was actually too long - the huge whales (reportedly just juveniles) were so close that I could get pretty good close-up shots of sections of their fin or their blowholes. The ship's captain was doing an amazing job of keeping up with the whales yet still staying out of their way with very fine tuned maneuvers. Eventually, Bill gave the order to resume course as we were already behind schedule, and even the one planned afternoon landing was getting more and more at risk.

Click on the first image to start a slide show for this day (31 pictures)
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The afternoon was filled with time to relax, attend some more presentations, and more relaxing. After 4pm we were summoned to a meeting to discuss our options: it was already late, the weather foggy and lots of icebergs in the water, meaning that we had to slow down even further and would get to the planned landing site at the Fish Islands well after 5 or 6, with the likely outcome that the fog would be so dense as to be prohibitive of an excursion. So we stopped right then and there and went on a two hour long cruise through the ice field in the Zodiacs. Visibility was minimal but that added to the ambience. Sean was driving skillfully between different icebergs finding for us various seals and nesting Antarctic shags. But to me, the most impressive thing was the deep blue, super clear water.

After about two hours it was time to go back - but where? The fog had densened so much that it was impossible to spot the ship. Fortunately, Sean had a small GPS unit around his neck and found the boat in a straight line. From what we heard, however, other drivers and especially the kayakers were not as lucky and drove / paddled around for a bit before finding the ship. By the time the last people were on board we already had our hot shower and were ready for dinner; and during dinner the ship was already full speed ahead for the next destination. Just before going to bed after midnight I made my second attempt at taking a picture of the bridge at night (didn't go all too well either). I got to see two humpback whales in immediate proximity in the water to the left side of the ship, and the whole bridge crew watching them with their binoculars. What a show.

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