South Georgia is now far behind us as we make our way across the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean towards our next destination, the Falklands. The sky is grey, the sea is grey, but memories of our days in South Georgia blaze with colour.
Today is a day for reflection on all we have seen and learned, and for preparation for the days to come. Our first presentation of the day was a thought-provoking account from geologist Michael Jackson on the scientific basis behind climate change. We learned about the pioneering experiments of early scientists that led towards a modern understanding of how and why climate is changing, and the critical role of the Polar Regions.
National Geographic Explorer ploughed on. Soon, changing air and water temperatures in addition to looming fog told us that we were crossing the Convergence (or the Antarctic Polar Front), passing from the cold waters of the Southern Ocean to the slightly warmer conditions of the Southern Atlantic.
Next, naturalist Madalena Patacho gave a sparkling presentation about ‘The Ocean.’ She took us from the very creation of the earth itself and its first oceans, to the 11,000-metre depth of the Mariana Trench, around the world’s swirling warm and cold currents, to the final opening of the Southern Ocean. All of this creates a massive, unrestricted transport of water in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is so important for the concentration of wildlife that thrives in this region.
National Geographic photographer Camille Seaman concluded with a surprising window into her passion for knitting, a skill originally dominated by men, from its origins in the Middle East to its spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. Knitting’s excellent qualities were much appreciated by the polar explorers of the Heroic Age and by sailors everywhere, as her images showed.
The ship pressed onward throughout the day. At times, the ocean swell was quite impressive, but National Geographic Explorer handles it all comfortably. At evening recap, our screens in the lounge were bright with undersea specialist Brett Garner’s footage of gliding king penguins.