Sunday 29 January 2023
There was quite a change overnight when the ship started pitching and rolling. Although I had gone to sleep quite well, I woke in the early morning feeling decidedly seedy. After taking further seasickness tablets I was still uncomfortable and took half a sleeping tablet so that I could get to sleep. This turned out to be a good thing to do and I woke feeling pretty good, albeit somewhat late.
We made it to the first lecture – John’s second part of ‘Race to the Pole’. (Anne convinced Israel to give her some breakfast; I made do with a cup of tea and a biscuit. People are certainly swaying around the ship again today). Part 2 was as well done as the first: again with parallel chronology, following each of the parties as they readied themselves for the journey to the pole, their respective experience along the way and in Amundsen’s case, return home. John’s story was liberally interspersed with quotes from first hand accounts, including the poignant and moving final account from Scott’s diary. As part of the ‘Aftermath’ section John again mentions Kathleen Scott’s biography (A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott) and the recently published ‘Snow Widows’ – the women behind the lost men.
Later in the morning, Steve tells us the full story of the research that he has been doing (along with the Citizen Science our fellow passengers have been involved in). He studies Adelie penguins whose bones, feathers, mummies, eggs, remains of food (fish bones and squid beaks) along with their guano of course form ornithogenic soils that are preserved over time in mounds. These soils can be analysed using stable isotope analysis and radiocarbon dated amongst other things to tell us a lot about the history of the region. Steve has also been collected sea water samples from everywhere we have been to assess the phytoplankton and krill in the various locations. This is to help assess a dramatic dietary shift for penguins about 200-300 years ago. One hypothesis (supported by assessment of historic eggshells) is that this was due to an oversupply of krill caused by the sealing and whaling in the area. Steve has got permission to get samples of egg shells of known age (from the eggs in Scott’s hut that were collected 1911-12) so that he can compare them to the make up of current waters to further prove this hypothesis.
We sit with Steve at lunch and he tells us that he had been an archeologist prior to this and got the (unrelated) opportunity to help with penguin research over a couple of seasons. He then looked for projects to get his own funding to carry on working with Adelie penguins in Antarctica. He also has a Trust Fund that he established to get young people involve with projects to stimulate their further interests and careers in this area.
In moving out of the embayment in the ice edge last night we had to change direction and are now still encountering ice. Aaron points out that these are older icebergs that have been rolled around and now form interesting shapes.
Captain Denis says that we have 3m swells and are likely to encounter more ice so we should be prepared for unexpected movements of the ship over the afternoon. This makes our planned siesta seem like a good choice.
Bryan is running a workshop on Rocks in the library at 3.00 this afternoon. I did pop up briefly but the ship was moving around too much for me to stay.
At 4.30 we have a special afternoon tea along with an auction to raise money for the Antarctic Heritage Trust and NZ Antarctic Society. The items include autographed books, maps and pins, framed Antarctic prints, commemorative stamps, Shackleton’s whisky, a replica of Ed Hillary’s ice pick and a framed NZ$5 note signed by Ed Hillary. There was also a chance to be captain of the ship for a while with funds towards the Crew Welfare Fund set up to support them in unexpected situations. Most of these items opened bidding above my maximum limit but it is all to support very good causes. I will join these societies and show my support that way. Ian scrubbed up very well, dressed in a suit for his role as auctioneer; he was very funny and managed to extract lots of money towards the charity causes – over $10k was raised.
When we got back to our rooms we discovered certificates had been delivered marking our crossing of the Antarctic Circle and the farthest point south reached.
We weren’t sure that there was anything to recap today but at our briefing (entitled Wandering at Sea) we heard from Aaron that we had lost some time going eastward to get out of the ice and were now taking a northeasterly course to cope better with the 3m swell. Hopefully we will be able to turn more northerly soon because at this stage we will not have much time to spend at the Campbell Islands.
Kate shows us photos of the Snow Petrels and Antarctic Petrels eating crustaceans and even squid. Vincent gives us another hilarious presentation – this time on his research into aging patterns in the long-lived Wandering Albatross.
Then of course it was time to eat again and even though we were still full from the afternoon tea, all our table could not resist the sticky date pudding. After dinner we have the 6th instalment of the documentary ‘The Last Place on Earth’.
Day 1-2: Meeting and Departure
Day 3: The Snares
Day 4: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Day 5: At Sea
Day 6: Macquarie Island
Day 7: Macquarie Island
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: At Sea
Day 10: At Sea
Day 11: At Sea
Day 12: Cape Adare, Antarctica
Day 13: Possession Islands
Day 14: At Sea, Coulman Island
Day 15: At Sea
Day 16: At Sea
Day 17: At Sea, Ross Ice Shelf
Day 18: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 19: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 20: Cape Evans/Cape Royds
Day 21: At Sea
Day 22: At Sea
Day 23: At Sea
Day 24: At Sea
Day 25: At Sea
Day 26: At Sea/Campbell Island
Day 27: Final Day at Sea