Dawn broke on our third and last full day crossing the Atlantic towards South Georgia. Our expedition leader Russ woke us ready to start the day with a hearty breakfast. Several more seabirds had joined us since yesterday and we were delighted to see several light mantled sooty albatross. After breakfast I gave a lecture entitled “Introduction to South Georgia” in the Ice Lounge, to give our guests the opportunity to learn a little about the history and everyday workings of this little country in the South Atlantic. This gave some insight on what to expect when we finally arrived, and heightened the excitement for tomorrow.
Straight after the lecture it was time to attend the mandatory South Georgia pre-arrival briefing. We watched a short video narrated by David Attenborough called “The Visitors Guide to South Georgia.” Here we learned the importance of biosecurity and of all the good work being carried out by the South Georgia Government to restore the natural habitat of the island. Russ then talked us through the plans for the next day and answered all our questions regarding the rules to protect the birds. We then watched a short video from IAATO detailing how we must behave when we are ashore and how these rules protect the wonderful wildlife around us.
After a busy morning of learning, it was time for lunch in 270°. The weather had vastly improved since the last few days, and as we ate we could see more seabirds were joining the vessel, gliding effortlessly in our wake. At 13:30, it was time to for us to take all our outer gear down to basecamp to take part in Biosecurity Decontamination. We scrubbed our boots thoroughly and the guides helped us inspect and clean all our gear to ensure it was free of seeds or other contaminants that could damage the ecosystems of the places we would be visiting. Once all parties were happy that we had been successfully decontaminated, we signed off that we were ready to go ashore tomorrow.
At 16:00 we were happy to hear afternoon tea announced on deck 8. All of that scrubbing and vacuuming was thirsty work, so we headed up to enjoy an array of savoury and sweet bites. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the Ice Lounge for our second lecture of the day led by naturalist Doug Gualtieri entitled “Penguins and Other Birds of South Georgia.” We enjoyed learning a lot more about our favourite feathered friends and their life cycles in preparation for the next few days.
Afterwards it was recap time and Russ gave us a little more information about tomorrow’s activities, including a possible opportunity to kayak! He was then followed by a short recap of photography tricks to save your knees by Todd Gipstein and Jim Pfitzer. Deborah Goodwin then followed with her temperature data from our crossing from Puerto Madryn, which showed how the temperature was dropping. At one point we could see a 4°C drop in temperature indicating we had crossed the Northern Boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current! Alyssa Adler then presented us part of her Ph.D. research, introducing us to Macrocystis, an algae we would see in great abundance over the next few days.
Finally, it was time for dinner, so we all bustled down to the restaurant for a delicious meal before some of us settled into the Ice Lounge for a Halloween movie and popcorn.