At sea, Drakes Passage

Jan 21, 2020 - National Geographic Orion

After our blustery afternoon yesterday at Ushuaia we were expecting a bit of a rougher Drake Passage, but today has been relatively peaceful! Long may it continue. For our first day onboard National Geographic Orion we spent it at sea with not a single mass of land in sight and only those onboard and the birds for company. Drake Passage supports an incredible number of sea birds and today we have seen at least five species including the enormous wandering albatross soaring gracefully behind the ship.

Our morning started with an introduction to the expedition team, followed by a safety briefing for the small boat operations we will do in the Antarctic. Then for the photographers among us, the two photo instructors gave a session on how to take better pictures during the expedition. Our afternoon had the very important task of decontamination. The Antarctic is relatively pristine, and so the last thing we want to do is inadvertently introduce invasive specimens such as plant seeds or diseases transmittable to wildlife. So we had a vacuum session, removing any potential seed in our clothes and bags, followed by a dipping of our boots into a biocide and fungicide to kill off any hidden things on our boots!

Tom introduced us then to the Antarctic for the later part of the afternoon and shortly after that we had our captain’s cocktail gathering, where Captain Heidi introduced herself officially and welcomed us all onboard the wonderful National Geographic Orion.

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About the Author

Peter Webster

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born in Scotland, Peter became fascinated with nature and wildlife from a very young age. This early interest led to him earning a degree in conservation biology followed shortly after by an M.Sc in marine and fisheries ecology. He is currently studying for another M.Sc in digital mapping. After working as a commercial diver for several years Peter was offered the position of Field Diving Officer with the British Antarctic Survey in 2012. He then spent the next 16 months in the Antarctic, stationed at Rothera Research Station, on the peninsula where he managed the dive operations and a team of scientific divers working on a wide range of research on climate change, ocean acidification, and increased seabed disturbance by icebergs. As well as diving Peter also spent several months in the Antarctic deep field working in aircraft operations, depot laying, and meteorological work whilst living in tents in conditions below -30oC.

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