After we boarded the Palmer we had a two day transit through the Drake Passage. The water was rocky but we were lucky, a storm had just passed and there was one behind us. Conditions were relatively calm for the Drake Passage. The first couple of days of transit the ship was busy with everyone setting up their lab spaces and planning for our first station.
We had a couple safety tests on-board where we prepared for abandoning ship in the life boats. For the practice drill we heard the alarms go off and everyone quickly bundled up in their warmest gear and headed to the conference room, the meeting place in case of an emergency. We quickly headed to the small life boats which were more of an enclosed capsule; no windows, metal, and you had to strap yourself in to stay safe when the life-boat would flip over. There was also a supply of food and water.
The transit was somewhat rocky through the Drake Passage. But we woke up this morning to serene waters, surrounded by icebergs, in Wilhelmina Bay, our first sampling location! We had arrived to Antarctica! The water is a very deep blue and the sun only dips above the horizon giving several hours of sunlight. The lighting gives incredible colors reflecting against the deep blue water and ice. It is so beautiful and very surreal. We spent most of the daylight hours outside observing the wildlife and taking pictures.
We saw 24 whale sightings, all humpbacks and humpback calves.
We also saw several groups of Adelie penguins swimming. The penguins moved in a group of 20-30 and they were very quick, diving above and below the surface of the water in their little penguin pack.
We also saw several Antarctic seals. Not bad for our first day in the South Pole!
Meng’s acoustic krill radar found that the site was plentiful with krill. And as the sun started to set we quickly started to prepare for our first sampling location in Wilhelmina Bay.