Antarctica (2): crossing the Antarctic Convergence

After a few days on board, I wrote in my diary: “Finally some excitement. The weather has seriously deteriorated (now 8 Beaufort), and that leads to some hilarious situations! Washing yourself in the shower of your cabin has become very impractical and during lunch I almost fell down with my chair and everything after a seriously heavy shock… Fortunately, I could just hold on to my cabin mate in time. Miraculously, I am still not sea-sick, although most of the others are at this moment…

As a marine biologist on a ship with 80 other scientist, you have to wait a long time until it’s your moment to take samples and do your job. I think that on this 2.5 months’ trip I only really “worked” for 2 weeks or so. So one has to fill his time with other things: writing scientific papers, talking with colleagues, writing a diary, going outside to enjoy the scenery and wildlife, taking pictures and (in the evenings) do some photo-editing.

Especially when crossing the Antarctic Convergence zone (between 48 and 61°S), there’s not a lot you can do. The waves are super high and life on board is on a hold (although your stomach content can be quite dynamic then…).

Another very calm day on Polarstern. Not literally though. There isn’t a lot we can do and that’s mainly due to the bad weather. This morning I stayed in bed for quite a long time, but eventually I had to get up out of pure frustration: all that shifting and rolling in my bed! I couldn’t find a way to lay down comfortably, because after each crash of the ship against the waves, I ended up smashed to either the wall or the protective board I had to put up to cover the opening of my bunk bed in order to prevent me from falling down. Showering was also a joke: water splashed out of the shower all over the small bathroom, my shampoo and shower gel fell all over the place and I constantly needed one hand to hold on to the shower cabin myself…

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By the way, not becoming sea-sick was probably the result of my anti-seasickness medication (Touristil) in combination with accupressure wristbands (although I normally don’t believe in these things).

Because the Antarctic Convergence is a zone of upwelling, the ocean is super food-rich here. And with food come birds. This zone has its own selection of typical bird species. At a certain moment we saw the follwing species all flying around together:

1. Light-Mantled Sooty Albatross

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2. Kerguelen Petrel

3. Cape PetrelSlide47.jpg

 

4. Blue Petrel

5. Antarctic Prion

6. Antarctic FulmarFulmar10_Maarten.jpg

 

7. Antarctic PetrelAntarctic_Petrel3_Maarten.jpg

We crossed this turbulent area in more or less 4 days. At the end of the 4th day we saw our very first iceberg! Although we would see thousands more after that, this first one was photographed like a movie star! Here it is:

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M

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