Antarctica: The Conclusion, Part 1

By December 1, 2006Miscellaneous

For the next two days, we will be travelling the Drake Passage. The waters are slightly rough today owing to the fact that we are travelling north as the winds blow east to west. By sunrise tomorrow, we will be at Cape Horn, having past through the worst of it all.

This morning we heard a lecture about whales. Some of the passengers saw a few of them over the last few days, but I did not. It’s still very early in the migratory season for them. In about a month, viewings will be more plentiful.

A few notes about whales:

  • They have a very streamlined form. For instance, the flippers of many of the species fit nicely into pockets and their mammary glands are tucked in. Together with their streamlined form, they have made special adaptations for underwater living like the ability to hold their breath anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes and slow down their heart rates as they dive deeper into the ocean.
  • Whales are like icebergs in that you only see 5-15 percent above the surface.
  • During the lecture, one of the crew members took out a piece of rope that was knotted off into various sections. The rope made it all the way around the lecture hall which helped to illustrate the various sizes of the whales from small (average fin whale: 66 feet) to the largest (blue whale: 110 feet and 160 tons).
  • The rest of the day was rather quiet with passengers going out to the deck to enjoy the scenery for one of the last times. Towards the afternoon, a number of passengers (myself included) started to feel a little queasy which afforded us a good excuse to catch up on some reading or sleeping. There were quite a few empty chairs at dinner as many just kept to their rooms or requested room service as a way of coping with some of the seasickness.

    Tomorrow: Final thoughts and the manufacturing nexus….