24 March – Drake Passage Day Two
Written by Christy
Today was our second day crossing the Drake Passage. We had gone to sleep last night expecting rougher seas and less favorable weather conditions, with some of us praying our seasickness medication would save the day. We woke up to drizzle and fog, as we had crossed the Antarctic Convergence during the night, but miraculously, no one has gotten seasick! With no need for substitute surveyors, we got right to work at 9 a.m. Those of us who were not doing sea bird or marine mammal surveys during the morning either helped out on the bridge with surveys anyway, or enjoyed the lectures given by the expert staff on whales, penguins, and a brief introduction to Antarctica.
As the morning went on, the fog descended, and the horizon disappeared. Surveyors still managed to spot a fair bit of wildlife despite the poor visibility, including many cape petrels, southern fulmars, a number of Antarctic fur seals, a humpback whale, and a few hourglass dolphins.
We also saw land for the first time since leaving the Beagle Channel, as the fog managed to dissipate enough for us to see Smith Island and Low Island. Most of the day, though, was spent staring into the fog, wondering whether we would run into an iceberg!
On that note, we did manage to see our first chunks of floating ice, and supposedly a tabular iceberg hidden behind a sheath of fog. So, although we crossed two important Antarctic borders early in the day, the Antarctic convergence and 60° South, it hasn’t really felt like Antarctica until we saw the first bits of ice! In the morning we will really set foot on Antarctica—it’s unbelievable.