Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Walking on ice--this is a big deal?? Dumb human tricks. Traveling north Tuesday, November 24

Another chance to walk on sea ice. I decide--big deal, walking on ice. It turns out there were seals on the ice and it was warm. Oh well, i got spent a relaxing morning on-board.

The other activity this morning was another polar plunge. Since the law that requires Minnesotans to play “hardy Minnesotan” anytime they are out of state only requires one polar plunge per trip, I again stay on board. Turns out is was much warmer and much more pleasant that the first one. But it was still a polar plunge!

After crashing into the ice again for a marketing shot (we left the photographer on the ice), we head north, destination Elephant Island sometime tomorrow.

We cruise by an emperor penguin siting on broken sea ice with five Adelie penguins. The ship

does a U-turn and slowly creeps up on the penguins. Most of the passengers put on parkas and head for the bow--in a stiff wind driven snow. Didn’t get too close, and the emperor never stood up. It is clearly much bigger than the Adelie penguinsThe ship backs away and turns back on coarse.

We have three talks by staff in late morning and afternoon. One about the ice and climate of Antarctica. One on the history of Antarctica discovery, starting with the ancient Greek predictions of a southern continent. [Interesting note of strange symmetry--the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents and the Antarctic is a content surrounded by ocean.]

The last talk is a quick history of whale photography by Flip Nicklin the National Geographic photographer who is on the cruise. Flip IS the history of whale photography.

  • His father owned one of the first dive shops in Southern California and was given an underwater still camera and underwater 16 millimeter film camera. He shot the first underwater still pictures and film of a whale in the early 1960s.
  • Flipp has done 19 feature photography articles for National Geographic, 17 on whales and dolphins.
  • He was involved in the early whale research that used photography of flippers, fins and flukes to identify and track individuals.
  • He photographed the first hydrophone research of whale song. [Interesting note: Whales were first protected in 1966 but National Geographic did the first whale story that didn’t treat whales as an economic commodity until 1971.]
  • When doing whale work, he assumes he works on site 100 days, actually gets on or in the water 70 of those days and that all the useful pictures come from just four days.

There seems to be a preoccupation on this ship with ships being destroyed by ice. There are a number of books about the Titanic, the Lusitania and Shackleton in the library, books about the Titanic and the Lusitania and a Shackleton DVD for sale in the gift shop. During the recap tonight, naturalists tell us about how “growler” ice warned sailors of icebergs nearby and read first-hand stories of sailing ships being crushed by icebergs.

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