Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

Puenta Arenas (Fri., 5/7/10) – We’re Off!
by -- May 10th, 2010

After awaking from our first night’s sleep on the ship, everyone dispersed throughout town to grab all of the last minute items they could – dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, soccer balls, and of course GPS cords (where are those cords???) before the ship was due to depart.

At 12:30 sharp the rumbling of the engines could be heard as the ship prepared to set sail.  We all climbed to the bow and said goodbye to the shores of Punta Arenas and hello to the incredible journey ahead of us.

Soon the wind and cold brought us all back into the ship to continue organizing and coordinating our gear and supplies. A mid-day safety brief was a highlight, and we all got to try on our survival suits and life jackets and climb into the life boat, our savior in the case of an extreme emergency (also known as a ~30 ft long roly-poly bobber that can hold up to 76 people strapped into seats dispersed in every nook & cranny of the vessel).  We were given the advice to choose our seatmate wisely as there are no bathrooms on board (!).   Tonight we met and discussed the day to day logistics of our cruise with the entire crew and recapped  some of our world-record highlights from last year, including:

  • recording the deepest dive of a humpback whale (~360m)
  • recording the farthest migration of any mammal (two of the animals we saw were matched to animals seen in American Samoa, totaling a distance traveled of ~9500 km)
  • recording the highest densities of whales ( 5.1 whales per km2 in Wilhelmina Bay)

Tonight a “Tie-Down” party was thrown and we secured all of our gear before hitting the fury of the Drake Passage tomorrow.  Sounds like we will need all of the happy thoughts we can get for this crossing! More to come (as soon as we stand still again)!

Reny

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